Vinyl Williams

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Vinyl Williams
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
Years active2007-present
Associated actsToro y Moi
MembersLionel Williams

Vinyl Williams is an American neo-psychedelic band led by Los Angeles-based multimedia artist and musician Lionel Williams, active since 2007.[1][2] Vinyl Williams has released five studio albums: Lemniscate (2012), Into (2015), Brunei (2016), Opal (2018), and Azure (2020).

Williams, who calls his music "celestial pop",[3] has been described as neo-psychedelia,[2], electronic,[4] dream pop,[5] shoegaze,[6] krautrock,[4] chillwave[2] and hypnagogic pop.[7] Dummy Mag has called Williams a "retro futurist with a penchant for analogue noise and sonic transcendentalism".[8]


Lionel Williams is the grandson of cinematic composer John Williams, and the son of session drummer and producer Mark Towner Williams and classical pianist Leah Williams.[9]

He began recording as Vinyl Williams in 2007, and self-released the extended play Naked Sanctuary in July 2010.[10] Other musicians who played with Williams in these early days included drummer Bryan Lee and bassists Calin Stephensen and Craig Murray.

In 2011, Williams assembled a backing band that included synth player Nikita Arefkia, multi-instrumentalist Ian Gibbs, drummer/synth player James Lake, and bassist/drummer Billy Winger.[11][6]

Prior to the release of the Ultimate World EP, its first single, "Chroma Heart", was premiered on March 9, 2012 on and International Tapes.[12] Abeano described the song as "kaleidoscopic, gleaming with the soft, lush hues of something lovingly crafted and utterly gorgeous".[13] On March 26, 2012, The Line of Best Fit featured another single from the EP, "Teal Palm", as their "Song of the Day", calling it "deceptively simple four-chord pop, played through a kaleidoscopic filter of Can-esque kraut and Secret Machines-esque post-rock, constantly modulated with bits of Luke Abbott-indebted pastoral electronica".[14] The Guardian featured Vinyl Williams in its "New Band of the Day" series on March 21, 2012, with Paul Lester describing Williams' music as playing host to "the effulgent aura of the more gently experimental noise-pop, with the ghostly pall of chillwave"[15]

Ultimate World, written and performed solely by Williams,[16] was released by Warmest Chord on April 9, 2012,[17][18] A mixtape by Williams, Spacebeat, was released to promote the release via Dummy Mag.[19] The video for "Chroma Heart", premiered by Vice Media's Noisey site on April 10, 2012, was directed by Williams and included reference to his collage work.[20]

Vinyl Williams' debut studio album, Lemniscate, was released on November 12, 2012 by No Pain in Pop in Europe and Williams' own Salonislam imprint in the US.[21][22][23] The Fader premiered videos for "Higher Worlds" and "Harmonious Change" prior to the album's release.[24] The album received a positive reception from critics. The Guardian gave the album a positive 4 out of 5 rating,[2] while Pitchfork critic Patric Fallon said, "Lionel 'Vinyl' Williams' retro-obsessed psych-pop is obscured in lo-fi tape hiss, riddled with microphone distortions, and sounds as if it was crafted purely from the dust lifted off of Can records. His wavering voice floats inside gobs of delay and reverb, constantly changing tone and pitch amidst the thick smoke of smoldering synth tones and destroyed guitar strums".[25]

Vinyl Williams was interviewed by Dazed & Confused in October 2012, and contributed original art to the article.[26]

No Pain in Pop released the "Stellarscope" single on March 1, 2013, including a Europa51 remix featuring ex-Stereolab member Andy Ramsay.[27] Williams and Arefkia created an interactive music video to coincide with the release, which premiered the same day on Dazed Digital. Williams said: "'Stellarscope' is an interactive environment. It's meant to be explored as a generative process - in other words you create the visuals by wandering throughout. Certain objects have sounds that emanate out of them (rainforest sounds in the jungle, ambient drones out of celestial tree disks, low drones out of the ending chalice) which are in congruency with the actual song. If you can make into a close proximity to those objects during the duration of the song, in a sense you can jam with it. It's supposed to allow navigation into a visual and sonic improvisational world. There is no interface or goal, it's really about exploring, and ultimately a test of digital dexterity. It appears to be a little difficult to navigate through a space jungle kingdom built on seamless stream-of-consciousness."[28]

While in Seoul, South Korea, Williams met with Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi and the two decided to collaborate on a conceptual, interactive record combining music and visuals; Trance Zen Dental Spa was released as a free digital EP on December 10, 2014 by Bundick's Company Records. Williams explained: "The most conceptually-intact way for this project to exist is as a digital form. It's about issues of simulated phenomena that ultimately end up as choose-your-own-adventure hypnotism".[29]

Company Records released the second Vinyl Williams studio album, Into, on 24 July 24, 2015.[1] The album's lead single, "World Soul", premiered on April 29 on Stereogum, and was described as a "clinic on layering synths and electro atmospheric sounds".[30] On June 15, the video for "World Soul" was premiered by Clash, which described it as "a feast for the eyes - flickering colour, hypnotic shapes and more".[31]

Vinyl Williams released his third album, Brunei, on August 26, 2016 on Company.[32] It included the singles "Riddles of the Sphinx" and "L'Quasar".

A fourth album, Opal, was released by the French label Requiem Pour Un Twister on July 20, 2018, preceded by the singles "Lansing" and "Noumena" and a 360-degree video for "Aphelion".[33][34]


Lionel Williams has developed a collage art catalog that has received worldwide acclaim.[35] His artwork was exhibited at the Ugly Art Room's "All That Remains" show in Brooklyn in 2011,[36] and the "Let the Sunshine In" exhibition at Mindpirates Gallery in Berlin in January 2012,[37] during which he improvised with other musicians including Jochen Arbeit (Einstürzende Neubauten), Travis Stewart (Machinedrum), Miguel de Pedro (Kid 606) and Verity Susman (Electrelane).[38] Williams' artwork was also featured in Dazed & Confused magazine's art issue in November 2012.[26] In 2013, his work was exhibited under the title "Sri Neter" at the California Institute of the Arts.[39]

Video work[edit]

Williams has directed music videos for other bands such as Tears for Fears, Medicine[40] and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.[41][42]



  • Lionel Williams – vocals, various instruments (2007–present)

Associated musicians[edit]

  • Bryan Lee – drums (2007–2010)
  • Calin Stephensen – bass (2007–2008)
  • Craig Murray – bass (2008–2009)
  • Nikita Arefkia – synth (2011–2013)
  • James Lake – drums/synth (2011–2018)
  • Ian Gibbs – various instruments (2011–present)
  • Billy Winger – bass/drums (2011–present)
  • Sam Chown — drums (2018-present)


Studio albums[edit]

  • Lemniscate (2012, No Pain in Pop/Salonislam)
  • Into (2015, Company Records)
  • Brunei (2016, Company Records)
  • Opal (2018, Requiem Pour Un Twister)
  • Azure (2020, Requiem Pour Un Twister)


  • Qoma & Aura - Unreleased '09-'10 (2010, self-released)
  • Naked Sanctuary (2010, self-released)
  • Trance Zen Dental Spa with Chaz Bundick (2014, Company Records)


  • "Chroma Heart" (2012, Warmest Chord)
  • "Teal Palm" (2012, Warmest Chord)
  • "Higher Worlds" (2012, No Pain in Pop)
  • "Harmonious Change" (2012, No Pain in Pop)
  • "Stellarscope" (2013, No Pain in Pop)
  • "World Soul" (2015, Company Records)
  • "Riddles of the Sphinx" (2016, Company Records)
  • "L'Quasar" (2016, Company Records)
  • "Lansing" (2018, Requiem Pour Un Twister)
  • "Noumena" (2018, Requiem Pour Un Twister)


  1. ^ a b Elingburg, Scott (August 17, 2015). "Interview: Vinyl Williams". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  2. ^ a b c d Hann, Michael (2012-11-22). "Vinyl Williams: Lemniscate – review". The Guardian. London.
  3. ^ "Opal, by Vinyl Williams". Vinyl Williams. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Vinyl Williams". Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  5. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (23 July 2015). "Vinyl Williams: Into review – fitfully intriguing, with stretches of inertia". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Vinyl Williams - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Vinyl Williams: Brunei". 5 October 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  8. ^ Steph Kretowicz. "Vinyl Williams - Leminscate | Dummy » New Music". Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  9. ^ "Lionel Williams | | Let The Sunshine Inlet The Sunshine In". Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  10. ^ "Naked Sanctuary, by Vinyl Williams". Vinyl Williams. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Vinyl Williams". Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  12. ^ "International Tapes". International Tapes. 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  13. ^ "Vinyl Williams – Chroma Heart". ABEANO. 2012-03-09. Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  14. ^ "Vinyl Williams – Teal Palm // Song of the Day - Best Fit Premiere". The Line Of Best Fit. 2012-03-26. Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  15. ^ Paul Lester (2012-03-21). "New band of the day – Vinyl Williams (No 1,233) | Music |". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  16. ^ "Ultimate World | Warmest Chord". Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  17. ^ "Ultimate World, by Vinyl Williams". Vinyl Williams. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Vinyl Williams - Sounds Better With Reverb". Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Dummy Mix 115 // Vinyl Williams | Dummy » Mixes". Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  20. ^ "Vinyl Williams - "Chroma Heart" (Official Video)". YouTube. 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  21. ^ No Pain In Pop. "Vinyl Williams :: No Pain In Pop". Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  22. ^ "Salonislam". Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  23. ^ "Vinyl William: Lemniscate". 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  24. ^ "///No Pain In Pop\\\". Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  25. ^ "Vinyl Williams: "Higher Worlds" | Tracks". Pitchfork. 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  26. ^ a b "Vinyl Williams's "WHOA!" art". Dazed Digital. 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  27. ^ [1] Archived 2013-06-19 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "Vinyl Williams's Stellarscope A/V Experience". Retrieved 2013-12-16.
  29. ^ "Vinyl Williams and Chaz Bundick: Trance Zen Dental Spa". bittorrent blog. London. 2014-12-10.
  30. ^ "Vinyl Williams – "World Soul" (Stereogum Premiere)". Stereogum.
  31. ^ "Premiere: Vinyl Williams - 'World Soul'". Clash Magazine.
  32. ^ "Brunei - Vinyl Williams - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2018-07-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ "Q+A: Vinyl Williams // OPAL LP "Milliennial Ballroom"". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  35. ^ Lionel Williams. "Lionel Williams". Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  36. ^ "UGLY ART ROOM: Ugly Art Room Presents: ALL THAT REMAINS". UGLY ART ROOM. 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  38. ^ "Berlin Sessions | Let The Sunshine Inlet The Sunshine In". Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  39. ^ "Arte psicodélico de Lionel Williams". Retrieved 2013-12-20.
  40. ^ "medicines new video is noise pop perfection". Retrieved 2014-11-12.
  41. ^ "Dub Thompson-No Time Musc Video (Interview/Director Vinyl Williams)". Retrieved 2014-05-15.
  42. ^ "Music Video: Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love - HUH". Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2015-04-16.

External links[edit]