Mark Tucker, Camera Obscura, review of I Have Forgotten How to Love You

David Williams - "I Have Forgotten How to Love You" - (CD/1995) - the first clue to what you're in for with the seriously damaged David Williams lies in the cover art he perenially features, of Judith Schaechter's breath-takingly beautiful, perverse, and powerful elegant monstrosities, which are simultaneously fired by frozen light and imbued with darkness and fever. The same, you'll soon see, if you listen to ANY of his bizarre releases, may be said for Williams' monotonic deadpan ruminations on the choking insanity of the not-so-hidden side of everyday life.
   However, the glow in Williams' music and lyrics issues from a grave-digger's lantern, set burning fretfully while the composer exhumes carcasses, ghosts, tattery calcified emotions, raging furies, deliquescing brain afflictions and various other hastily interred dementia. In this odd ouevre, everything is in a state of entropy, decaying with no hope of cure, correction or rebirth. There is no calm, no steady state, all the normal poetic semiotics thrash muckily about in an acid bath of stifled hysteria:
                "So I sing a song of soured milk
                in an ecstacy-addled X-mas eve,
                and a sock burns in the toilet
                to honor the infant amputee."
   The only possibility of a shade of joy seems to exist in the release of death, and so his short-stanza'ed plays are crammed full of violent, messy, fermentive, malodorous journeys towards extirpation. Deeds that, while they enact vile consequences, point ultimately to demise are the only mildly tolerable situations. However, in listening to his delivery, the lyrics transpose. His impossibly drear monotone has a sharp air of sardonic hilarity, a very dark humor, and when he injects the camp-fire immortal "Kumbaya" into his own "Altar Boy", taling pains to completely drown the former's longing spiritual nature into a sensitively hopeless lament, the listener has to stifle a barking laugh. What should be incongruous becomes a wicked exercise in forcing the prosaic into recognizing its escapist trappings.
   Each successive Williams release benefits from his increasingly savvy composing, studio orientation and articulate musicianship, which makes this one, natually, the best one yet. With a dozen sit-ins, and on a label that accomodates his uniqueness, the sophisitication and landscaping of his pieces has broadened measurably, which proves to be more important than might be the case with other musics. The delicate ornaments that flit through his murky compositions gain an objectiying luminescence and serve to more clearly draw the outlines of the bottom depths he prefers to wallow in.
   Yes, as the promo literature indicates, there are a couple of waltzes, a Gothic samba, even a mariachi band horn chorus refrain (picture Herb albert playing a "Tijuana Bull" over Kevin Ayers at his most depressed), in "Vaginal Interior Decorator". You neve rknow what the hell you're going to get; sorta like leafing through an issue of National Geographic that's been crossed with outtakes froma a Faces of Death video. No matter what he does, Williams' music is unique and he remains along with Copernicus and a few others, one of the true eccentrics of independent music. Even Mike Mantler never got this morbid.