William Selman “Saccades”

There’s different air about William Selman’s latest album, Saccades. Mystery unfolds within each self-contained sonic universe, the crevices teeming with life, the empty space an instrument of its own. While Selman’s work often challenges listeners, there’s always an engaging undercurrent to it. Saccades continues this exploratory practice but shifts the viewpoint causing adding a cinematic scope to these pieces that are a fantastic surprise.

Opening with the title track, Saccades takes a wide view that encompasses multitudes. Miniature worlds bump against each other, separated by hissing voids and derelict margins. Taken in succession, the slices that makeup “Saccades” tell a dark story where isolation is king and the end of days is just an annoying distraction pestering us into losing focus and wasting away. Metallic sounds thrum, glinting in the darkness like a secret signal for hidden vultures. As feedback builds before decaying into the sound of footsteps walking away from this distorted reality.

Familiar tonal landscapes are bent into angled, persistent memories on “Ghost Strata.” Insects whirr and water churns while hollow drones emanate from beneath the surface like the light of a submarine coming to the surface, growing larger with each passing second. Tension rises and the synthetic waves follow suit, a heavy, disorienting hum billowing into the atmosphere. This passage returns later, emboldened and further fleshed out, as the hero completes the third act in one piece before eventually succumbing to the abyss. 

Much of Saccades’ palette is cold, though not sterile. I don’t know that I’d call Selman’s world here inviting, but once the sounds start pouring from the speakers, it’s difficult to turn away. A dystopian hue fills the cracks in these arrangements, creating a kaleidoscope of grey shifting and rising under duress. Selman’s work is dense, sometimes impenetrable, but the solid nature builds to a shimmering blast furnace crescendo at the end of “Walking Tracing,” calling it a night on this stolid universe and hoping the next lifetime offers more color. Saccades is another exceptional album from this thoughtful, inventive composer.

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