My new album ‘Kochi’ is out now on Audiobulb Records. Thanks to David Newman for mastering and releasing this, and to Kirk Markarian for the gorgeous design work.
‘Kochi’ is an immersive, heavily textured ambient album inspired by memories of the Arabian Sea. The four lengthy tracks are all centred around field recordings of Fort Kochi beach in Kochi, a port city in Kerala, South India. The character of the environment is captured in the sounds of lapping waves, birdsong and crow calls, the buzz of fishermen, traders and locals walking in the sand.
These sounds are layered with Indian cowbells and elephant bells, and hypnotic, evolving drones created with a shruti box, melodica and Moog semi-modular analogue synthesizer.
Glockenspiel and electric guitar played through a swathe of effects pedals add hypnotic, looping melodic textures and soft, glowing tonal patterns.
Released by Audiobulb Records on limited edition cassette and download, 23 October, 2019 – AB092
Written and recorded by Wil Bolton
Mastered by David Newman
Design by Kirk Markarian
Photography by Wil Bolton
“Since 2003, Sheffield’s Audiobulb Records has pushed what they call ‘exploratory music’. It’s a deeply personal style of ambient music, where the artist uses sound as a device to narrate real life experience, learning more about themselves in the process. Audiobulb’s latest release is Kochi from London-based musician Wil Bolton. The album draws from his time spent at the port city Kochi in Kerala, India. Making use of instruments, synths and field recordings, each track captures a totally unique feeling about the city. Key to his music is the resonance of sound and place, with Bolton prolonging the images, memories and emotions of a specific setting.
‘Reeds’, the opening track, evokes the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s stunning: the cry of a passing crow, the mutter and murmur of voices, the steady, gentle movement of tinkling cowbells. Bolton remembers a place always on the move. Uplifting layers of drone buzz with the business of the track, euphorically, becoming more and more intense. The last two tracks are more introspective and personal. In the background of both is the steady sound of the shore, ebbing and flowing, receding and encroaching. An unchanging, inescapable sound make us as listeners feel hopelessly still. ‘Tides’ is framed beginning and end by an unnerving sound of rattling bells, and ‘Nets’ crushes us halfway thorough with an overwhelming swathe of emotional guitar chords, heavy with effects, giving the track a numb quality.
Kochi is an intense study into music’s ability to narrate place-specific memory and emotion.” – Now Then
“Via releases on such labels as Eilean, Home Normal, Dauw, Dronarivm, Hidden Vibes, Fluid and Time Released Sound, the name Wil Bolton is perhaps somewhat of a household name by now. His releases appeared in these pages before. For this new album, Bolton uses quite a bit of field recordings that he made at Fort Kochi Beach, in Kochi, a port city in South India. There are birds, crows, people and seaside sounds that were captured and which Bolton mixes with drone sounds that he made using a Shruti box, melodica, Moog semi-modular analogue synthesizer, while also using glockenspiel and electric guitar playing through sound effects. I gather that from this description one could easily see where all of this is going, in terms of music; ambient music. Both sides contain two lengthy pieces and they are all variations on the same thing, which is a few lengthy, sustaining drones, coupled with individual sounds, from saying the guitar in ‘Nets’ or xylophone, bells and a variety of field recordings mixed together. I must admit my head was in a totally different place when playing this, not sleeping or meditating, but just doing some stupid manual labour behind the computer and this cassette was on repeat for maybe three or four times in a single row. I wasn’t bored with it, nor lazy to get up and change it, but I rather enjoyed the washes of tones, the soft tinkling of bells, seagull, all on this lousy rainy day and while I couldn’t resist thinking of new age music, especially in ‘Nest’ when the guitar starts to produce these Göttsching like notes. I am no fan of new age music and this new release by Wil Bolton came suspiciously close, but I still would like to give him the benefits o doubt and say it’s not new age, but a very friendly form of ambient music.” – Vital Weekly
“Since art exists in time, it is unthinkable that it be separate from space. As we become absorbed in the duration of a record, a new space is imagined – or relations with our environment are infinitesimally altered. To some, ambient music may seem a kind of background texture devoid of action. But explorations of duration and location give it a distinctly narrative structure. It tells stories, in the subtle sequence of sounds, and the series of emotional resonances it solicits.
Kochi, the new album from Wil Bolton, seems to have already arrived in distant lands. As the album opens, birds squawk whilst bells ring like the clinking of masts. Bolton’s field recordings of an Indian port city are reframed by organic-sounding drones. Synth, glockenspiel, electric guitar, and other instruments are spun into delicate gossamer. As the overlaid sounds swell, the sun rises and the events of the day begin.
This is a luxuriously relaxing album. Its four tracks – “Reeds”, “Ropes”, “Tides”, and “Nets” – speak of a nautical idyll, whose hardships are glimpsed only in a languidly soft focus. At times, you seem to kick back on the shore, the seaside action washing over you. At other moments, you are wheeling above with the cawing gulls. On the third track, a sense of menace creeps in, as the sea reminds us of its sublime power to undo human endeavour. However, the tide recedes; you are left unscathed.
Returning home after 40 minutes, you may feel rejuvenated and refreshed. However, the material foundation of this album is not a deserted paradise. The distant voices of fisherman speak of the day’s labour. Car horns remind us of urban dwellers hurriedly at their business. There is a risk that their lives have been appropriated and misrepresented. Ultimately, the place and events we experience as listeners are not theirs. Bolton’s music is a dream or distant memory of a place – one which ushers a new world into being.” – A Closer Listen
“As with last year’s Viridian Loops, the wanderings of Wil Bolton on the Indian subcontinent once again constitute the inspirational trace underlying his production. In the case of “Kochi” it is in particular naturalistic sounds captured on the southern Indian coast, which flow like a slow filigree sequence of four tracks, all lasting just over ten minutes, with the usual stratified layer of reverberations and impulses of modular synths, filtered for the occasion through instruments and objects typical of local traditions. In fact, waves, bird sounds and sounds of everyday life on the shores of the ocean correspond to drones filtered through skins and made from shrutes and bells, which ideally interact with pedal effects applied to prolonged resonances of electric cords. The “in the field” explorations of the English artist in search of the sound and cultural roots of the drone thus return in “Kochi” thus returning a hypnotic declination, which without presenting any traces of exoticism instead reflect all the warmth of materially breathed and remained landscapes. firmly imprinted in memories suspended between concrete sound and synthesis.” – Music Won’t Save You