Brad Walsh's Human Ecosystem of Sounds, ANTIGLOT
An instrument-free album with vocal layering and manipulated body percussion
From the opening track forward, Brad Walsh's new album ANTIGLOT pulls the mind and spirit to a state of active meditation. For all its mystical elements—and the moments of rhythmic hypnotism—this is not background music. Walsh wants listeners' attention and he manages to secure it without instruments or lyrics. It's a tremendous departure from his last full-length, Six Infinite, and comparisons to Björk's Medulla are expected. But this album is pared down even further. The self-taught musician works only with vocal layering and manipulation of sounds produced from his body. He employs a traditional song structure and keeps tracks brief, but lush and uncommon soundscapes manifest.
"It started as one song, 'March.' It was the day after the Women's March and it just came out," the independent artist explained to CH. "During the march, it was one of those moments where you realize music really is around you everywhere. Some people had drums, others were singing and chanting. It was chaos, coupled with the actual sound of people marching. There was a rhythm and it was invigorating—this human energy." Walsh thought it would be the start of an EP that he would give away for free, but more work poured forth.
Two tracks aside ("Boadicea" by Enya and "Cellophane" by Sia Furler), Walsh wrote, composed, produced, recorded and mixed all song, before mastering by Streaky. Many components were first recorded on iPhone notes despite Walsh's professional studio set-up. "This was the quickest way for me to do it," he says, "Record there, email to myself immediately and then sample from it. This is where all percussive sounds came from." Without lyrics, he notes that it was an exceptional quick process to produce each song. "At times, I did two or three songs in one day. The whole album was recorded in a month. I could have kept going but the way they flowed together worked so well. The length felt right."
It's fascinating that, while devoid of lyrics, the album's noticably saturated with political and personal statements. The first track "starts with a gasp because that's what happened to me on election night," he explains. "Everything else—beyond the songs named after places I've been—are a reaction. The whole album is an exercise in meditating my way through life." The title represents the antithesis of polyglot, or a person who speaks multiple languages. Walsh was drawn to antiglot as it references the throat in many ways, but embodies no language. Clearly, this is a word that encapsulates the album.
His position as an independent artist grants substantial freedom but frequent complexity. "For someone like me, who doesn't like performing because of stage fright, as an artist, what's most viable for me professionally is the actual music. I am my own publisher and my own label, it all goes to me." That said, he makes clear, "I don't market myself. I don't have a budget for posters or ads. Social media is a built in way of letting people know there's something new." That said, it is this situation that allows him to—once again—make an album that's really meant to be listened to from start to finish, a mark of his artistry. "I make music for myself and my mother," he says with a laugh. But there's truth to this and it works in an honest and beautiful way.
ANTIGLOT ($10) is available now on iTunes. It's also streaming on Spotify.
Cover art by Naya Cheyenne, all other images courtesy of Brad Walsh