Wilsen's "I Go Missing in My Sleep is Echoes June CD of the Month
Written by John Diliberto on June 5, 2017
From the first words of the song “Centipede,” Tamsin Wilson, the namesake of her group, Wilsen, takes us into a world of imagination. Not fantasy, but life, where the commonplace becomes the surreal place. The hundred little legs belong to an arthropod crawling up her Brooklyn apartment wall and she turns it into a meditation on existence, with a deeply atmospheric, ambient drenched landscape across the cycling, delayed guitars. That’s the world of I Go Missing in My Sleep, the new album by Wilsen.
Although Tamsin is the voice and writer of Wilsen, you can hear the music as an ensemble work, especially with guitarist Johnny Simon and bassist Drew Arndt. Arndt has a melodic bass sound that doesn’t always follow the root chord while Johnny Simon is a guitar colorist with delays, reverse effects and distortion churning across Tamsin’s lyrics like a sidelong glance.
That’s the sound of “Garden,” a song that asks to seize the day of a relationship, which you know probably fell apart. There are two drummers on the track who propel it with syncopated grooves. While the guitar tracks seem to suck you in and out of a vortex, shifting the scene while Tamsin remains serene, trying to hold on to the relationship and the groove. You can hear influences of Radiohead in Wilsen’s music. I also hear English singer Lyla Foy in both voice and song structure although I don’t think that’s an influence.
Wilsen drips sweet poignancy tempered by an arch sensibility. A track like “Dusk” is a poetic excursion into love, with Tamsin singing over electric guitar winds and dropping a chorus that would be repeated endlessly on most pop songs, but she just turns on it once, avoiding the obvious. “Kitsilano” is a song of timeless love named for the neighborhood her grandparents lived in Vancouver. In the middle you can hear voices at the borders of comprehension taken from voicemails from her grandparents who passed away a few years ago.
Painting introspective journeys into the soul is where Wilsen works lives. The lyrics of “The Parting” is where the album title comes from and it’s like an insomniac’s fever dream about the end of a relationship. Tamsin lies with thought’s assaulting her mind, the groove an insistent but cycling march, always moving, never arriving.
Tamsin can also draw the shades darkly down on “Final” a song, simply about death, and painted in austere colors of mostly acoustic guitar.
Fortunately, the album doesn’t end on that note, although “Told You” isn’t much happier, a song of a failed relationship with Tamsin playing the lover who spurns, with no regrets.
On I Go Missing in My Sleep , Wilsen creates a sound that is psychedelic without the nostalgic aura and personal without the weeping confessional. With the assistance of producer Ben Baptie who has worked as a mixer for artists like Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson and Growler, Wilsen has created an enveloping album on I Go Missing in My Sleep that will send you inside Tamsin’s head.