The apparently meaninglessness of abstraction is not necessarily what it seems. It’s in those downright bizarre moments where hidden indicators of intention exist. Persistent intention that rings through regardless of the particular words and sounds. A juxtaposition of gibberish contains more pearls of wisdom than a perfectly elucidated thought form. Think Dada, think Surrealism – if you can figure it out at face-value then someone isn’t trying. There’s absurdity, and then there is David E. Williams: enigmatic to the last note and just as befuddling, but never absurd just for absurdity’s sake. The American mastermind arch-lunatic subjects the post-industrial world to another trip through joyous madness and synaptic misfires of fun. His is a world into which we are granted fleeting entrance: a collection of commonplace niceties assembled to resemble a far more sinister spectrum. When silly animal sounds, strange descriptions of food, wacky nonsense, and homemade nursery rhymes can transmit unnerving vibrations then something else altogether is afoot. A folksy cabaret of dementia is found on Trust No Scaffold Built of this Bone, hosted by Mr. Williams and featuring a cast of familiar friends. The schizophrenia ward decided to put on a variety show and the inevitable paranoid madness is as follows. Through synth poppy Big Top moments, moody piano ditties, and outsider singalongs. each act portrays a unique assembly of weirdness with enough confusing kernels of truth to hold a keen ear occupied.
Often an abrasive meeting of unacquainted sounds, Williams’ musical palette leaves little off-limits. To describe the consistency of sounds almost requires a track by track breakdown — because, really, there is no consistency of instrument or voice. Electro-synth pop dominates, but never for very long. Anticipation goes right out the window, especially for those already unfamiliar with Williams’ work. This is intentional outsider music. Something you would find on the public access channel during the uninhabited hours of television. Everything from the odd vocal deliveries and the off-kilter lyrics, to the seemingly amateur layout design of the album artwork is of that impossible to pin-down aesthetic and feeling. There is a darkness in that humour and that innocent simplicity — as if a psychopath was mimicking happiness and fun. However, the pop sensibilities ring through loud-and-clear in biting melodies and enchanting piano ballads, only to fall apart into chaos, of course. But to get lost in the mania is to miss the point completely — there is control, there is self-awareness. You don’t just become a cult icon by mistake.
After making something of a career out of collaborations, it only makes sense to see some friends pop up in this D.E.W. production. A sinister collection like this gives one the feeling of an updated Music, Martinis, and Misanthropy of sorts. As to be expected, the album is opened with a few introductory songs from Williams with some accompaniment from Jerome Deppe on guitar. Nearly irritating guitar lines and solos that are so out of place that they border on frightening. The spotlight is briefly relinquished after a slough of menacing and unhinged high-weirdness. First up, we are greeted with the sombre, dirge-voiced Lloyd James of Naevus, giving a dreary description of the mundane. Despite the seemingly substanceless, his trademark venomous apathy manages to punch through like an endless grey day. Onwards to new bouncy, silly territory with, of all people, Jane Elizabeth from Tesco USA singing several duets with David. Oddity abounds with these tracks and their impossible-to-decipher imagery, full of animals and food. In the midst of it all lies the familiar voice of Andrew King on his own track that comes the closest to neofolk. Bardic as to be expected, it is a nice oasis of somewhat normalcy — somewhat (what a relative observation!) Then it’s back in the capable hands of Williams to close with percussive synthy ditties, a Casio-tinged Teutonic beer hall stomp, and some unexpected and surprisingly touching final moments.
Really it isn’t until that final moment where it become abundantly clear that more method to the madness was surely employed than first impressions would imply. The closing sampled speech carries a poignancy that could be applied to anyone, altogether touching and odd considering the source – a strong symbol for D.E.W.’s music as a whole. A reminder of how important a polar balance in life can be. It is at this point where this shocking revelation forces the listener to revisit the full album once again. Only this time the silliness of sound and word ought to be scrutinized and that higher meaning sought. Again, this was never absurdity for absurdity’s sake, but a well-constructed piece. One must remember that any artist worth a damn never does anything by mistake. Without telling a lie, Trust No Scaffold… is a difficult listen for those less-experimentally inclined. It deserves time. It’s fun, it’s abrasive, it’s weird, and there happens to be much more than meets the ear. A nice little descent into grinning madness and loathing.
01) The Official Picnic Song
02) Dashing Habber
04) The Emperor of Ice Cream
06) Heat’s Down the Seeking Missile
07) A Patch of Fog in Purgatory
08) What’s your Scene, Jellybean?
11) Peanuts, Candy, a Dog and a Bird
12) Ten Pound Bag
13) Meine Schwester, die Krankenschwester
14) Turn Off all the very Hot Things