Hello Columbus by David E. Williams (Review)

Call it brilliant, call it wrong, but it will certainly cause listeners with a more delicate palate some pause.
Hello Columbus - David E. Williams

The most distinctive and memorable thing about this release is Williams’ voice and lyrics. Musically, the 3 songs hover around the periphery of industrial-tinged gothic rock. Both “Hello Columbus” and “Listen Somewhat Awkward” range from harsh noise and programmed drums to intense synth dirges and piano melodies. The oddball track, “Not A Gear At All” (which is the best track on here), sounds like what The Cure had hoped to accomplish on their disappointing “Wild Mood Swings,” with it’s playfully melancholy keyboards and synth strings.

But like I said, it’s the voice and lyrics that really stick out in my mind. Vocally, Williams sounds like an odd cross between Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Brian Healy, if the three of them got drunk together and started singing on the bar. His voice is often rough and slurred, but the rawness does add a certain impact that’s hard to ignore, and at times, seems quite at odds with the musical proceedings (especially on “Not A Gear At All”).

The images that Williams convey describe the typical sentiments of skewed love and broken relationships in often bizarre and groteseque imagery. It’s been some time since I’ve heard lyrics that really stick with me, but it’s hard to forget lines like “Your meal was manufactured just to stain my dish/Socks hang from the shower rod like sad white fish” or “If I am Christlike in my magnaminity, will it be Magdelenean what she gives to me?” Sometimes the lyrics are in danger of going to close to the dreaded “goth cliche,” but Williams is always ready with some sort of verbal or poetic twist that’s as clever as it is disturbing.

Although sometimes Williams’ songwriting seems near-mysognistic on the surface, in actuality the songs reveal a sense of pathos and self-loathing that more than make up for any perceived sexism. Even when he describes the worst kind of domination and control, the words and images he use reveal the pitiful nature of said activities. Call it brilliant, call it wrong, but it will certainly cause listeners with a more delicate palate some pause.

With only three songs, this is probably not the best introduction you could get to Williams’ music. However, if you’re really in need of music that combines equal elements of older goth and industrial, with a healthy dollop of blackened wit and humor, I’m hard-pressed to think of anything close to Williams.

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