William Control begun as the electronic side project of Aiden frontman Wil Francis, but as the fourth William Control album The Neuromancer is released, it’s clear that it has evolved to be far more than a side project. William Control has become its own entity and a thoroughly intriguing one at that, combining sinister atmospheric electronic music with Francis’s nicotine soaked voice purring the sort of lyrics you really couldn’t let your grandmother listen to. The Neuromancer presents yet more dark gothic richness for the audience’s listening pleasure, and has to go down as William Control’s finest album yet.
The album starts off, as all William Control albums do, with a short spoken word introduction. Often spoken word introductions are simply a waste of time, but for an album like this the introduction is a perfect scene-setter, dragging the listener down into William Control’s murky twilight world early on. First song ‘Adore (Fall In Love Forever)’ is therefore, surprisingly upbeat. It appears at first glance to be a rather beautiful tale of devoted love, replete with twinkling synths, although lyrics such as “Your beauty kills, I’m still depraved”, suggest there’s more to this love song than meets the eye.
After that relatively gentle introduction however, ‘The Neuromancer’ immediately kicks the oppressive dark imagery into overdrive, with a set of songs which interweave with one another seamlessly, exploring a rainbow of different types of human agony. Whether he’s taking an arch look at sado-masochistic relationships on stomping industrial track ‘The Filth and The Fetish’ or issuing a heartfelt plea to a lost lover in the beautiful, lullaby-esque ‘Passengers’ William Control manages to create music that’s both compelling and more than a little bit perverse, in the best way possible.
Album highlight ‘Illuminator’ is a classic example of this. It starts off with what sounds like choral harmonies, then things really start to ramp up a gear with the addition of some pounding drumbeats and some more of those lovely dreamy synth sounds that permeate the entirety of ‘The Neuromancer’. The whole thing is capped off with lyrics that read like eerie poetry and a wonderfully ominous spoken word section which sounds like some kind of post apocalyptic radio broadcast and makes sure things are kept convincingly baleful.
Overall, ‘The Neuromancer’ is one of the best albums of the year so far, a black hearted industrial treasure that positively drips foreboding darkness from every song. The electronic music is wonderfully sparse and never feels cluttered or cheesy, and leaves the listeners free to appreciate the lyrics. And it’s definitely the lyrics which are the centrepiece of this album; they’re sometimes surreal, (“I know we’re estranged, like animals, high on cocaine”) and sometimes gut-wrenchingly honest (“Why are you so damaged, so ugly, so completely disgusting?”) but they’re always incisive, poetic and thought provoking, and they’re what makes ‘The Neuromancer’ an absolutely essential listen for anyone who prefers a bit of food for thought served with their music.
‘The Neuromancer was released on 04/04/14 by Control Records.