While Nobody Knows. isn’t perfect, Beal has created something special. It’s an album with an otherworldly quality to it; one that is full of ideas and yet at the same time feels completely void and stays true to Willis’ mantra, which the album closes with: “I am nothing, and nothing is everything.”
After releasing his debut album Acousmatic Sorcery, Willis Earl Beal was hit by the spotlight. He toured the world, appeared on television and was interviewed endlessly. Now he’s decided he wants to be Nobody, saying: “I want to be a shadow, not the man casting it.”
Setting about to accomplish that in a musical sense, he’s released Nobody Knows. An album that is both empty and alone while at the same time full and oppressive, it is a record on which Beal seems to have found the shadow world he seeks.
Possessing a strong voice which he whips around this beautifully composed album in a wide range of styles, from soul to blues to a beautiful duet with Cat Power on ‘Coming Through’, Beal fits perfectly with all of these genres but changes them just enough to create his own twist on them.
Beal wages into these familiar circles, crafting their sound before mixing in garbage cans and electric toys, resulting in a striking and sometimes haunting sound – the ambient sound on the R&B track ‘Everything Unwinds.’ is a perfect example.
BY DANIEL PRIOR
Nobody Knows. is out now through Hot Charity/Remote Control Records.