Musically, we oscillate between folk and electronica, where the tiny pulses of experimental ornamentation rub against Samson’s evocative voice. The album draws a lot of inspiration from the artists he has shared the stage with over the years: from S.Carey who accompanied Bon Iver, through The Album Leaf, Olafur Arnalds or even Do Make Say Think.
Compiled in one year – from January to December 2020 – it consists of nine beautiful new works and presents itself as a rich meditation on ideas about ownership, identity, and the search for a home in the world’s most volatile world.
Marking 10 years since the release of his debut album Balance in 2012, Will Samson’s new album almost feels like the fruit of his learning and growth over the past decade.
For the first time, he gave himself a dedicated studio space, outside his home. A boon to his sanity and workflow, while he also upgraded his equipment, eventually buying his own microphone and a new laptop that didn’t constantly overheat and crash, allowing him to update his recording software for the first time in years.
While these rather mundane details may seem overkill, to someone who has spent so much time on the river, they have brought a certain stability that Samson’s work often fails to find.
Recently settled in his new home in Portugal, Samson has spent most of his life moving from place to place. Born in Oxford, he soon emigrated with his parents to Western Australia, where he lived for ten years before returning to England. He then moved between Oxford and Berlin, then Brighton, Lisbon, Brussels and finally Bristol, where Active Imagination was recorded on the site of a former malting house.
This fluidity has always been central to his work, there are so many elements in his music that relate to ideas about identity and home. Active Imagination is, in many ways, a continuation of that search and discovery, but the security that lies at its core has resulted in a newfound belief in its own craft and its ability to produce the most successful album ever to date.
The end result is a compelling testimony to learn about self-love, cultivate self-confidence, and examine ideas about identity. Some of the songs are indeed also taken from Samson’s efforts to tame lucid dreams during the first lockdown of 2020. Many of the lyrics on the album are simple descriptions of those dreams that Will will record in a special dream journal. . “Juvenita”, for example, is taken straight from Samson’s dream of walking in an empty Indian city with his ancestors.
Album Opening Song “Arpy– 5 1/2 minutes of heart-fluttering percussion construction – always special to Will but took several months to complete, while fast and skinny closing tracks,”avoidappeared almost entirely in one day.
Like a dream in a vortex, the imaginative nature of its opening, Active Imagination bears witness to Samson’s continued exploration – both the world around him and his own work – which still leaves great mystery for interpretation. Patient yet enigmatic, this album embarks on this journey and creates compelling soundscapes to explore, as Samson’s work always does.
“Thinker. Food advocate. Incurable coffee enthusiast. Communicator. Proud student. Zombie buff. Tv fanatic. Extreme troublemaker.”