A musical alarm is going off. Its two-part structure looms out of silence. Another sound appears — a car-horn from some distant childhood memory. The arrangement bobbles along for two confusing minutes.
O Guardian A, opening Tim Presley’s album The WiNK is like a palette cleanser for your mind. Whether you were listening to something before, or it’s the first thing you listen to that day, this strange frontispiece announces you’re about to go somewhere different.
So when the album proper opens out in your ears, what you’ll hear is a blend of crisply presented, simple fragments.
This time, there’s no fuzzy hiss or tape warping as rhythms mesh and a voice floats somewhere out of the soup. It’s choppy, spacious, and every element is presented as structurally vital within a deliberately limited palette.
Many heard the ghosts of Eno’s Talking Heads or Television. For me, these oddly engaging sounds had me revisiting Mayo Thompson’s equally strange 1970 album Corky’s Debt To His Father.
Following last year’s collaboration with Cate Le Bon in the project called Drinks, Presley again engaged Le Bon to assemble and produce The WiNK from a collection of his demoes and sketches as the first album released under his own name. No Darker My Love, White Fence, or W-X this time.
Tim Presley has stepped out from behind his wonderful psych fog and into a new conceptual framework of graphic pop. The WiNK is a stunning addition in his growing discography.
Clearly there are connections with Le Bon’s own work, and in many ways The WiNK seems to have grown out of last year’s Drinks. Hermits on Holiday from that album has a similarly minimal structure, where even the tiniest detail of two taps on a hi-hat halfway through the track holds powerful, simple beauty.
These kinds of gorgeous textural flourishes are scattered throughout The WiNK as it twists and turns through a time-warping 35 minutes. Organs swell and synths weave around the guitar-and-drum plod in Goldfish Wheelchair. The electronic squiggles that swarm the tail of ER grow out of some weird piano section from the Faust tapes.
Morris starts out a little downbeat, but its watery guitar and warm electronics sweep you up into an almost hymnal jewel of a song.
This is a creatively stunning album. Rubbed out, cleaned up, meticulously paced, and thoughtfully woven together. It’s an album without a trace of anything excessive or bloated.
How far can you pare things back before it dislocates and crumbles? The WiNK showcases 12 examples that know exactly where that line exists.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The WiNK is available now from here
Review orginally appeared in Brown Noise Unit September 2016