If 2020’s Mother Of was the sound of anxiety, Sediment is the sound of rebirth. Once again, Reid Willis has produced a startling cinematic document that hides its depth until all has been revealed. Those who place their digital needles on “First Grain” may think of it as a piano album, but once the orchestral and electronic elements begin to surface, the sonic terrain turns as lush as a meadow in spring.
“Shoulder the Burden” dispels any prior assumptions. The static rush at its start echoes that at the end of “A Home in the Void,” the closing track of the previous album. Suddenly the music is percussive, danceable and loose. Brett Hebert’s pulsating video highlights the industrial timbre, reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails. The themes of “birth, erosion, decay and rebirth” are already apparent, the dancers’ shrouds like cocoons. V O L T A I N E pushes the visual angle even further in “Conveyer,” with spectacular multiplying effects, so mesmerizing that one may miss the engaging percussion beneath. These are the proper choices for singles, given their accessibility and length, but no single track is representative of the set.
Time is again referenced in the clock-like timbres of “Haunted Fool” Then for a moment the album turns dark, “All Threads Extended” launching with the sentence “I will speak and you will hear, but there is no need to think” before tumbling into a sequence that one may even call pastoral, replete with bicycle bells and harp. These contrasts lie at the heart of Willis’ work, the artist infusing light and shadow into the same track.
In “Next Grain,” the album receives a reset or a chapter break, as Willis revisits the piano notes of “First Grain.” The three-hit percussive motif of “Sow the Silt” is analogous to that of “Shoulder the Burden,” suggesting that the artist is cycling through memories, revisiting and revising on his way to rebirth. If this were vinyl, it would be as if one side had bled into the other. But on the album’s centerpiece, “Cast Your Net Over A Torn Earth,” everything changes. Synths dance over crackling embers. Percussion erupts. The electronic elements crash through the stratosphere like sputtering satellites, splashing into an ivory ocean, only to rise again to the ticking clock. Military drums rise from the scalding sea like Leviathan, bent on revenge. After this, “Holocene Window” and “Dusk Rituals” sound like requiems, clearing the way for new growth, which arrives in the form of the ten-minute “Sifting Through the Years.” If the title reflects reassessment, the music suggests the disparate emotions of a life, shifting beneath the feet, seeking solid ground, finally found as “The Ark” touches land, its tumultuous journey over, the ensuing chapter as blank as a barren beach. (Richard Allen)