The words “recorded live with no overdubs” are overused, but in this case they make an important statement. The trio of Good Willsmith had to be on point at all times for this venture to work. One slip and the entire project would slip like a fraying belt drive. The Honeymoon Workbook – the trio’s first album to appear on vinyl – is a sound collage comprised of building and shifting layers, a seamless suite that breaks only for the need to flip sides.
Loops have always been important in the trio’s work, but loops often tend to battle when they repeat. Not so here, where they amass in drones. In the little spaces in between, dialogue samples are added, culled from old cassettes. Occasional song snippets haunt the mix as well. It’s odd to call this a mix, because it’s live, but it sounds like a mix, akin to Night Shift’s odd and beguiling Trespassers Guide to Nowhere, but without beats. Analog synthesizer, tabla, tambura and guitar are fed into the sonic brew, adhering like atoms. A small level of distortion (a nod to the cassette days) lends the project a grainy, abraded feel, while the tabla and tempura create a ritualistic aura.
The words “Relax now as we put together several Hemi-Sync sounds just for you to experience” (from “& my body to breath”) appear as an overture. The listener is guided into a meditative state. Melodic loops battle fuzzy drones, implying simultaneous urges. Just as a trance is ready to set in, a woman’s voice intones, “you will always be unemployed” and the choir starts to warble. The loop is the stand-in for “old tapes”, a psychological metaphor for the self-defeating voices one plays over and over in one’s head. When combined with the closing sermon (“If anything happens to me, my password is Lady Lass”), the implication is that The Honeymoon Workbook is a self-help tape gone wrong. The mind retains snippets of regret and encouragement in unbalanced measure, and some framework is required to put them in focus. Good Willsmith might not provide the answers, but their LP provides a temporary panacea. Relax now. Put all this aside. The world is not ending today. (Richard Allen)