(New EP Review) Samson Stilwell- Signals

Samson Stilwell is a poet and sound artist based in Portland, OR whom you may have previously caught on Freeform Portland hosting the Soundspace radio series with Ben Glas. He used to be in an ambient/experimental group called Opals, and now, in 2017, he’s put out Signals, his vinyl/digital commercial debut for Sounds et al.

Like his quizzical, elliptical poems, rich in their evocation of memory, Samson’s pieces are defined by their strong sensory details, whether they be the whispering loops that send nervous shivers through “Raphael, Esther”‘s drone or the field-recording of a silent walk in “Autumn Sliver”.  For Signals Samson delves through an eclectic slew of atmospheres, some glitchy and bordering on noise, some more in the vein of serene drone, assembling a familiar whole still without hinting at any particular focus or high-concept. As in Tessa Bolsover’s photography for the release, there is a sensitive, organic vibe to it all; there need not be any specific meaning to search for in any of these pieces, other than to see them as concise snapshots of the beauty of being alive. You take in the skillfully-layered composition of tactile electro-acoustic sound-manipulation/arrangement, and you end up hungry for more– the albums clocks in at just over twenty-minutes. One to take in carefully, and most certainly the first in more great stuff to come.

You can catch the final leg of Samson’s west coast tour with Roarke Menzies in Portland at Beacon Sound at 8 pm tonight, tomorrow in Seattle at Wayward Music’s Chapel Performance Space at 8 pm (with Norm Chambers, aka Panabrite), and on Saturday in Vancouver, BC at Quiet City at 8 pm.


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