William Doyle conjured up atmospheric evocations of suburbia with his performance of Your Wilderness Revisited at Colours Hoxton last Wednesday.
Standing alone amongst the many unmanned instruments, William Doyle is a man of few words. Don’t be fooled by his disarmingly meek introductions, he exudes an acute awareness, a definitive understanding for the application of his vision. Once an ambitious, Mercury Prize-nominated songwriter, it’s been nearly five years since he last released music under his previous alias, East India Youth. Following a long period of exile, his 2019 comeback Your Wilderness Revisited is an introspection of his past, an inaugural account of his days wandering southern England’s residential fringe.
His acoustic rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Buddha Of Suburbia’ feels uncannily suited. An impeccably considered opener, his bare-skinned vocal hauntingly projects around the still audience. Tonight, he’ll perform the album in its entirety. Joined by his bandmates, ‘Millersdale’ details sadness and wonder through ethereal piano loops and free jazz freak-outs. Behind him are crisscrossing images of crescents and cul-de-sacs, his familiar semi-detached habitat leased with magnificent new life. Doyle often talks about how we confuse nature to be a binary construct. Only when we’re able to look beyond the cement and residential symmetry, can we unlock its whole and infinite presence. It’s a beautiful sentiment and the rousing ‘Nobody Else Will Tell You’ feels like a compelling call to arms.
Blooming Magnolias paint the scene for ‘Zionshill’, Doyle’s beckoning vocals commanding it’s sweeping soundscapes. It’s all carefully mediated intensity as he walks the ranks of his playing musicians. Inspecting his company, he oozes authority, connecting intently with each as though instilling the instructions for his next orchestrated decision. Resonating around the room, Brian Eno’s articulate spoken word is profoundly mundane against the backdrop. Though Doyle is sweating profusely, ‘Design Guide’ offers a rare moment of sustained buoyancy.
Suspended amongst the darkness, ‘An Orchestral Depth’ beats within the chest of the audience. The piano’s kaleidoscope ambience feels like a gateway to Doyle’s suburban fantasy, the wilderness of terraced life sonically epitomised. It’s these elements of lucidity that make him so uniquely captivating. It’s like some art school film without the footage, each trailing note tying up a larger, distinctly unambiguous impression.