A new day on fire with language

No aim but don’t be so aimless

Steel toes, this mess is so stainless

Keep walking so we can be chainless

Los Angeles, the so-called “City of Angels,” exists in paradox: its perpetual sunny glow and promises of stardom casts a dark shadow of industrial grime and dangerous excess.  It is a city full of multimillionaires rearranging their faces, chasing after pipe dreams, and reinventing their histories, but thousands still rot in the streets, desperate for a meal…or a potentially fatal vice.

Poet Constant Williams has lived a lifetime in Los Angeles, and with his new Casket Cassette EP Chainless, he offers us four songs of “depressingly danceable music,” taking a contemporary spin on 1980s synth in its sound, but cradling the city’s lost and forgotten souls in his heart.

Bringing to mind Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Ultravox, A Flock of Seagulls, and Bronski Beat, Williams’s melancholy wails mournfully float over relentlessly euphoric dance beats and glorious chords – a struggling human soul trapped in a cage of artifice and the jiggery-pokery of late capitalism.

While staying faithful to the modern post-punk and darkwave movements, Williams now explores adjacent, airier influences, notably New Wave, in the Chainless EP.

Chainless is a powerful expression of existential perseverance; each song crafted to transcend our differences and demonstrate the connectivity of humanity.

The opening title track starts off strong with lyrics about existence in a liminal space shrouded in fear. In The Grave continues the theme, insisting there is more to life than rotting away a lifetime waiting for the grave, being living ghosts. Antabuse addresses vapidity, disconnect, and serves as a metaphor for the black hole of addiction. Decay continues the theme, ending the album with the calming words “time to walk away.”

The entire album is a masterpiece of coldwave, melted by the soul. In a city that can be incredibly heartless, there is hope, and there are angels watching.

Listen below:

Casket Cassette takes its name from a memory Williams has from childhood, of his father recording a live song onto a cassette tape, then placing the tape into his grandfather’s casket as it was being lowered into the ground. Williams’ lyrics often reflect upon somber themes such as mental health struggles, loss, heartbreak, addiction and recovery—while also offering glimmers of hope, humor and a general determination to overcome. Williams splits his time between Los Angeles and Iowa City, IA, where he is pursuing an MFA in poetry at the Iowa writers workshop.

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