"Interface sounds, notifications from devices, or even the sound of household appliances—this is the ambient music that we live with," says Joe Williams by way of explaining his latest album. As Motion Graphics, Williams tries to respond to our technological reality in the way that Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra did theirs: by turning it into pop music. Of course, he's not alone in this.
“Does the internet dream of itself?” asks Werner Herzog in his new film, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World. If it does, that subliminal soundtrack might be something like Motion Graphics, the debut solo album from the New York electronic musician Joe Williams. Until now, Williams has been known best as a sideman; he lent his hand to the squirrelly electronic textures of Co La’s 2013 album Moody Coup, and he also plays in Lifted, Maxmillion Dunbar and Co La’s drift-loving beats-and-improv ensemble.
I’ve rarely seen an album cover that so perfectly encapsulates the music contained inside. The self-titled debut album by Motion Graphics looks like it sounds. The crisp, clear digital illustration of what appears to be a semi-transparent robot, gears and lenses in full view, staring blankly at his hand against a backdrop of bright, saturated colors seems to say it all.
Motion Graphics is an electronic art-pop project inspired by the constant barrage of notification messages, pop-ups, and algorithmic data flow populating our daily lives. The heavily detailed songs are a seamless mesh of machine precision and human spirit, wrapping acoustic-sounding synthetic instruments in glitchy, fluid arrangements with rhythms approximating downtempo R&B grooves and soft, languid vocals to match. The architect of this futuristic sound world is Joe Williams, who has a history of musically reinventing himself, ranging from noise and IDM projects to his acclaimed glam-pop persona White Williams.
Motion Graphics 'Motion Graphics' (Domino)It’s only 30 minutes long, but few records are as complex, ornate and innovative as Joe Williams’ debut as Motion Graphics. He brings his experience as a UX/UI sound designer to bear on a record that encompasses experimental, future r’n’b, jazz and classical. If that sounds like hard work, the results are far from it.