Van Jane Willow, the 19 year old behind Plastic Willow, believes in the idea that music should sound completely raw and organic . He believes that modern day pop cultural music is suffocating in synthetics, the plastic bag that won’t allow it to breathe.
He says he understands that insanity is the next step on the evolutionary scale: “Some of us are just higher evolved than others. Insanity is what makes great music. Insanity is the side effect from years of being victim to the universe’s unavoidable compression. We probably don’t even exist the way we think we do, words are just circles and lines pressed together to lead us in a direction that goes no where. This is true, but if you recreate those words into a new form of existence, they start to make sense.”
“Are you in a coma, a visual fever dream produced by dying machines, pumping cold information into your form or shape through coils and cords? I’m in an empty warehouse, lying on the concrete, in a jungle of darkness, and theres a buzzing orb circling my figure, projected through negative light.” –Van Jane Willow.
Jamsphere decided to step into Plastic Willow’s world and discover where the madness is taking Van Jane Willow. What better way to understand somebody than listen to their music. We got the chance with Plastic Willow’s experimental album, “Lunar Pulse,” available as a free download on their website.
The album comes across as deeply personal, full of emotion and passion. It sounds more like an expression of life versus an explanation of life. It showcases Van Jane Willow’s talent in composition without driving beats or crowded rhythms. Or even conventional melodics or arrangements for that matter.
The album kicks off with the electronically ethereal “Repulsion,” and the first thing I notice, are the very strong traces of Pink Floyd in the choral arrangements. Which is a tremendously good calling card for any artist. Even one who is not looking for perfection.
The album is divided between acoustic-guitar and vocal moments like “Minnow,” “Hipster” or “The Colour Gold” and electronic moments of experimental sounds like “Deja Vu,” “Summer Home” and “Wounded Sparrow.” Not to mention the crunchy distorted guitar arrangements of “The Syringe.”
The track “Away,” would have been my outright choice as the album highlight.
Van Jane Willow builds a beautifully moody and melodic vocal, over a crawling rhythm which is absolutely hypnotic in it’s execution. However in his quest for imperfection, Van Jane Willow has chosen to mix the vocals into an echoing mud bath. I had to read the lyric sheet to confirm the brilliance of this song, as he sings:
“Somewhere far from here there’s a man in a mask holding up a bank for cash,
Somewhere far from here there’s a woman underneath the see counting the anemones,
Somewhere far from here there’s a man in a three piece suit lecturing the youth,
Somewhere far from my head I’m drinking for two and burning my skin for you…”
Thank heavens for “Cigarette Burns,” which evidences fully Van Jane Willow’s potential for creating atmospheric masterpieces that don’t need to be perfect nor imperfect, to make an impression on the listener. More often than not the raw honesty of a simple musical statement is so much more endearing than any search for intellectual, esoteric allusions. This track is an absolute highight on the album.
Along with “Cigarette Burns” I was blown away with “Hipster.” Another track that relies almost exclusively on an acoustic guitar and Van Jane Willow’s voice. Simplicity and honesty are once again keywords in making this song so likable.
Maybe I’m not quite so ready for the imperfect experimental sounds, but I was most definitely attracted to the Van Jane Willow’s acoustic-guitar and vocal combinations. And in my book, they by far overshadow anything else on this album. But then I’m a sucker for real, raw music.
In Van Jane Willow’s words: “LUNAR PULSE was created from the idea of life itself, it’s meant to mimic life’s raw simplicity.”
He wanted to leave the scene of synthetic voices with this experimental album by combining one take tracks with distorted loops.
“The aim of this album,” he says, “is to plant the idea that imperfection can still be acceptable, in hopes that one day the seed will grow.”
In an era of “American Idol,” “The X Factor” and “Autotune Software,” the idea of imperfection being acceptable is probably still a whole long way off and a Utopian idea to say the least.
But hats off to a bright young artist who still believes in his own ideals and puts his courage on the line, releasing, by his own admission, an ‘imperfect album.’
However with tracks like “Cigarette Burns,” “Hipster” and above all, a remixed version of “Away,” Plastic Willow may just have created the perfect, ‘imperfect album’.