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Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Willis Earl Beal announces new album | XL Records / Tender Loving Empire
Beal announces new album, Noctunes, shares "Flying So
Beal was born on the South Side of
Chicago. He would never consider it home. An odd kid, he spent a lot of
his youth talking with his grandmother, who would entertain his endless
questions about the universe and encourage his love of drawing. He
developed an obsession with Batman that would last well into his
teenage years, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a form of vigilante
Willis Earl Beal died on an army base in Fort Leonard Wood,
Missouri. After a rocky TK weeks of boot camp plagued with physical and
mental abuse, health complications (which would later require surgery
and the removal of large portions of his intestine) forced his
discharge. He moved back home. "When that all broke down,"
Beal says. "I lost a piece of myself."
Willis Earl Beal was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After
a stint of homelessness there, he worked odd jobs and rented a studio
apartment. Though he'd never learned to play any instruments, he began
to record raw, lo-fi albums with hand-drawn covers that he'd leave at
coffee shops around town alongside flyers seeking a girlfriend with his
phone number written on them. Those artifacts would eventually find
their way to the cover of Found magazine, then to Jamie-James Medina at
XL Recordings. Beal signed with XL's Hot Charity imprint in 2012.
Willis Earl Beal died in New York City. Despite the release
of two critically well-received albums on XL-Acousmatic Sorcery,
a collection of his early home recordings, and a fully orchestrated
studio album he recorded in Amsterdam called Nobody Knows-he
was a mess. "I'd drink myself into stupors," he says.
"I'd walk around in the daytime, crying, then I'd go downtown. The
police would bring me home in the morning."
Willis Earl Beal was born on a lake twenty miles outside
Olympia, Washington. After ending his contract with XL, Beal went to
live in the woods, and began an artistic transformation entirely of his
own design, from rough-edged outsider-art provocateur to the kind of mysterious
crooner one might expect to haunt the outskirts of Twin Peaks.
"People had all these ideas about what I was supposed to be,"
he says. "I had only ever wanted to make lullabies." Beal's
development played out over two self-released EPs and a full-length
album, and then Beal built the patient, ambient-leaning Noctunes.
The album's twelve songs are moving and meditative, thoroughly soaked
with mournful synth strings and simple lyricism that Beal says is
intentionally minimalistic. "I wanted to create this persona that
could say everything perfectly with very little," Beal says.
"The record, to me, is a perfect record. I listen to that thing a
lot, and it helps me."
Willis Earl Beal has yet to be born. Critics and publicists
defined him before he'd had a chance to define himself. Their
expectations were inextricably linked with race and gender, two
concepts Beal thoroughly rejects. Now, two extremely productive years
removed from the spotlight, Beal doesn't feel pressure to define
himself against anything. His new music is shockingly original, utterly
confident, and as ephemeral as Beal himself. He levitates above
definition, concerned only with self-discovery and truth-seeking.
"I know it sounds falsely altruistic," he says. "But I
think a simple voice like mine can serve as an example of some kind of
(Photo by Rodrigo Melgarejo)
Loving Empire) Street Date: Aug. 28, 2015
Pre-order it here
1. Under You
2. Flying So Low
3. Like a Box
5. No Solution
7. Say The Words
8. Love Is All Around
9. Able To Wait
11. Start Over
12. 12 Midnight