CD Review

David E. Williams - Two Releases

By Marcus Pan

Well, Mr. Williams so much enjoyed my review of his most recent release, Hello Columbus*, that he had sent to me his other two CD releases; 1994's A House for The Dead and a Porch for The Dying and 1996's I Have Forgotten How to Love You. His work previous to Hello Columbus is all digital. He's found himself the subject material of a number of area newspapers and press affiliates over the years and has clawed his way up the ladder of music esoterica as he stares out at the world in his Philadelphia haven and drawls his lyrics of utter morbidity and horror.

We've discussed David's wanton use of sexual imagery to shock his audience into getting the point. His verbal assaults and low-tone sooth-sayer vocal style I remembered from Hello Columbus is there in full. While I still can't say I particularly like David's vocal style, I can tell you that it does tend to grow on you. If you pay attention to the lyrics, and his reading style of delivering them helps with this very much, you'll get beyond the nuisance drawling and instead relish the flavor of David's poetic ramblings. We'll discuss David's poetic license (and he must have quite a few of 'em from various states (of consciousness) to write some of this wacked shit, really) a bit later.

On the music itself? His technical aptitude for musical arrangement is beyond reach. He's one of the best musicians I've had the pleasure of hearing. His instrumental layouts are perfectly suited against each other - there is never a point in his work where he gets too minimal nor is there a time where he gets too complicated and sloppy. The technical merits of all of his work is beyond measure. If David were born a few hundred years ago, I wonder if it would still be Beethoven the symphonies would be playing…

David's lyrics are not for the feint of heart or weak of stomach. Even song titles themselves can make most people spit. The poetry within the songs are no different and go further, discussing sometimes beautiful subject matter from a warped and fucked up point of view. And yes, David is one fucked up guy. I really believe this. Sure, he puts on that great-guy front, but deep inside, he's a freak. The kind of genius-level brain that is so off the normal consciousness that only the truly warped - or chemically enhanced - can find common ground with. I can associate with some of his subjects here - but damn, never would I have written of them with such heightened analogies. David - you frighten me.

A House for The Dead and a Porch for The Dying
In 1993, David and a whole slew of his entourage entered Big Sky Audio in Springfield, PA, and mixed together this album. Quite a few people helped out to provide a full sound to David's electronic ensembles. These people appear in a track or two for the most part, except for Jerome Deppe on guitars & background vocals. He appears on quite a few tracks here. David's affinity for stained glass art is apparent, with work by Judith Schaechter appearing on the cover. Her piece, "Tiny Eva," was actually inspired by the sixth track on A House for The Dead, entitled Dead Hymen.

David keeps to the orchestrational tone he's become somewhat known for. Track names are sarcastic and dwell upon irony in common situations: in sickness and in sickness for example and Less than Queer. Favorites of mine on A House for The Dead and a Porch for The Dying include the minimal tones and strumming of Stench Number Seven, a song about the sweetness of young love. An innocence that is lost as you grow older and the act becomes less for the person and more for carnal desire. Yet, ironically, maybe you'll meet your first childhood love again. Just remember - when you were a child you looked at her face. When you grew up you're too busy looking at the ass to notice the face. It's time to look up, folks.

Following this track is probably what is my most adored song on the album. Little Sap and Varicose is a barrage of wordplay - rhymes fly about your head and the piano licks David plays find a way to breed just under the voices and support them. They poke their note-filled keys up at the right times, then fade into the background as David goes into another barrage of rhymes. His vocal style doesn't bother me at all here - the lyrics are spit so quickly that you don't notice it.

Ok, we have time for one more in-depth track discussion - I have another album to review here. The Crippled Lord of Fairies - track 13. This is one of the most powerful uses of musical irony I can remember. The piano music is beautiful - sweet, reassuring. But the lyrics tear it to pieces, as is David's typical style. The combination of piano beauty and blasphemous lyrics create a powerful song. It's also a short song, leaving you with a sense of anger - "I killed myself with alcohol when I should have been killing you." Anger can be a widely spreading contagion.

I Have Forgotten How to Love You
Opening with the powerful track, I Have Forgotten How to Love You, the album immediately shows it is superior to David's previous. The orchestrational arrangement, with electronic keys and strong execution, is excellent. Again David has a host of people helping him with various acoustic and classical instruments. Jerome Deppe helps him again with guitars and some vocals as well. He twists all these instruments together and binds them with electronic strings and piano melodies.

The packaging is also wonderful. If I had access to a scanner right now I'd show you. [sob] Judith Schaechter, who created the piece on the cover of David's last album, appears on both the CD cover ("Feeds on Fire") and the insert ("Follower with Flowers"). The inside of the jacket is filled with a glossy photo of David himself and the package is a cardboard fold rather than a jewel case. It's pretty slick. This one was released by Cthulhu Records in Germany.

The first track, the already mentioned I Have Forgotten How to Love You, opens the album as a highlight. It's powerful opening piano chords is all encompassing. And it contains one of my favorite lines of the album; "You can't fly a plane on chocolate sauce." The opening strings of Sarah's Booted Boy are very strong like the way the opening to I Have Forgotten is. The song remains this way through to the end, too. Vaginal Interior Decorator is a song like The Crippled Lord of Fairies from his previous album. It's happy, almost bouncy sounding, in its instrumental makeup. But the lyrics are just about insane. The name of the song itself gives you that clue. But at the same time, he throws in a third ironic wrench - the subject matter, that thing which he holds up with analogies that are outlandish and morbid, is true love. Figure that out.

Ever meet someone that, regardless of how crazed the situation may be, turns out to be perfect for you? Sometimes it strikes you so suddenly that what's going on has no bearing on the situation. I'm In Love With the Ambulance Driver is a piece that dwells on this. The instrumentals is all piano, a wonderful waltz. After this David closes the album with an instrumental piece - more piano. Moving to a ballad now with backing windy keyboards, close your eyes when you listen to it. It's very important to the album. David takes you far away, scooping you up with powerful twine jaws in I Have Forgotten How to Love You. He holds you and binds you with shocking yet poetic lyrics, clashing word and instrumental ironies and takes you somewhere inside that weird head of his. But he closes with Fish Head Reprise and Variation, a song so soothing that you have to go with it. So close your eyes because David uses Fish Head Reprise to slowly float you back home. And when you do come home, don't forget where you've been. It was one hell of a ride.

Contact Information:
Post: David E Williams, P.O. Box 2422, Philadelphia, PA, 19147
* Legends #91