Will Lawton and the Alchemists is one of those rare bands that are both a challenge and a pleasure to write about. In fact, the joy lies in the challenge. I’m sure I have said that about them before…I’m sure it could be the opening sentiment of anything written about them. As a music writer, you look forward to the songs and sounds that make you reach for a whole new vocabulary, words and phrases not needed when talking merely about mainstream pop or run-of-the-mill rock. Will Lawton and the Alchemists are music makers with make you do that, and Black Bricks is no exception.
As the first musical missive from their forthcoming EP Alchemy, it both introduces new listeners to their mercurial sound and reassures existing fans and followers that this is business as usual. The caveat is that business as usual means being unusual because their music is always unique, adventurous, cinematic, wide-screen and exploratory. Even when compared to their own, previous creations.
It is perhaps because they will-fully (pun intended) ignore musical demarcations, leap musical boundaries in a single stride and are as happy languishing in minimalist classical delicacy as they are driving four-four grooves, exploring unique jazz-infused time signatures as they drift on the ambient ebbs and flows of more folk waters.
And Black Bricks is as exciting and intricate as they get. A blend of hypnotic piano spirals and pulsing bass lines build intensity, between which more relaxed interludes balance things out, interludes which evolve into epic and anthemic tones before slipping back into more serene sonic pastures.
Progressive is a word bandied about a lot, generally concerning a style of music first posited over a lifetime ago. But this is genuinely progressive music, with a small “p”. music which exists in its own world, ignoring fads and fashion and happy to push its own boundaries but, in doing so, sets numerous benchmarks for what the genuinely free-spirited and forward-thinking creative should be aiming for today.