Interview Walls: ‘Free From All The Daily Distraction’

If the “album” is dead as a valuable item, somebody forgot to tell Alessio Natalizia and Sam Willis.

If the “album” is dead as a valuable item, somebody forgot to tell Alessio Natalizia and Sam Willis. Step into a record store and you’re almost asking for a record’s visual presence to just grab you. The image chosen to front Walls’ second album, ‘Coracle’, does just that. To the naked eye, it’s just an eye-grabbing, pretty collection of pink clouds, but the process was somewhat more complicated than that. Photographer Robert Bellamy set steam against a black background and multiple tints and whirls, in order to produce the final, blossoming, flurry of pink. Willis confirms to DIY that the band see a lot of purpose in an attractive album design; “the visual aesthetic definitely does give a suggestion of how the listener will perceive the record, so we were keen to have the image as something opaque and open to interpretation.”

The buck doesn’t stop there, however. The album itself is a soft, slowly-evolving collection of ambient movements, with tracks seamlessly working together, sweet little loops and fragmented snippets sneaking into the frame - the general impression is of one great, glowing experience, lasting 50 minutes. To enhance this, or at the very least, to convey this to those that mattered, Willis and Natalizia invited journalists into a unique listening ritual. Placed inside a “pod”, the unsuspecting - or slightly terrified - music writer is then subjected to a series of strange sensations, all aimed at enhancing the senses and the album experience as a whole…

Sam explains: “The idea is that the listener is floating in body temperature salinated water which makes them float, and then the lid to the pod is closed, leaving them in complete darkness.. after a short while, we have the music play through the transducer speakers in the side of the tank.” The beauty of it is such; that it is, in Sam’s own words, “free from all the daily distraction”. Far too often a record is just an element of what’s going on in the background, whilst we jab at our smartphones. Even admiring the scenery is a slight disservice to an album, at times. Full immersion is rare and Walls seemed to keen to provide it.

Interestingly, the recording process differs from the ideal listening environment. The two-piece are occasionally found wrestling with other commitments (Natalizia spends her time in Banjo or Freakout, whilst Willis is a producer as well as a fervent podcast-maker behind Allez Allez). Willis also admits that some of Walls’ finest work comes “completely off the cuff”. The eventual product however, be it a result of complete isolationism or something the band just came back to every so often, is an album deserving of no distractions. Lights off, head focused, ‘Coracle’ is designed as the perfect rebuttal of a mp3 generation and it does the concept of the “album” justice.

Walls’ new album ‘Coracle’ is out now via Kompakt.

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