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140-gram LP version. Having partnered with Bill Kouligas in 2015 to relaunch his Lost Codes imprint as Codes, Visionist takes a defining step forward with the release of his debut album, Safe. The South London artist born Louis Carnell broke during a period of experimentation in UK music when, with the disintegration of the dubstep scene, emerging producers began looking to juke and Chicago house for inspiration. A pair of EPs on Lit City Trax (and a collaboration with Fatima Al Qadiri) in 2013 and '14 introduced Visionist's minimalist take on fractured R&B and liquid grime, establishing him as a leading voice in new wave UK soundsystem culture. On Safe, Visionist sculpts and extends that signature into new terrain and makes his most personal statement yet. Distilling his influences down to a sparse palette of manipulated folk, pop, and R&B a cappellas; icy synths; and metallic drum samples, he plays off ever-present anxiety and his own battle not to let it overwhelm him. "Comfort, protection, salvation -- this is what we search for," he says. "We are taught that a life of no worries is better for us, and therefore we try to create one that is 'Safe.'" But while safe as a musical concept implies conformity, Safe as an artistic statement is anything but. At a moment when the UK scene, once known for innovation, has settled into rehashing old tropes, Visionist continues to propel his sound into more experimental territory. The album traces the arc of an anxiety attack, from its onset through to recovery. Following the stately discord of brief opener "You Stayed," the grimy, ballistic assault of "Victim" sends its targets diving into mirrored corners. "I've Said" is a brutal, almost militant advance, its sound cutting in and out as though transmitted via shortwave radio. "Too Careful to Care" trades in skittering paranoia, with the soporific "Sleep Luxury" closing out affairs. Since 2012, Visionist has toured extensively throughout Europe, The Unites States, and Asia, appearing at industry standard clubs and festivals like Fabric, Berghain, Sonar, and Unsound as well as various underground venues. He has scored music for Kenzo, Liam Hodges, and Roxanne Farahmand in the world of fashion, and remixed Kelis, Ghostpoet, and Glasser. In 2014, he supported FKA Twigs on her first-ever UK tour. Photography and artwork by Daniel Sannwald; layout by Bill Kouligas.
The dark future Visionist, aka Louis Carnell, has in mind is looming in scale and cinematic in scope. Safe was an epic structure of crystalline synths defaced by pitched-up vocals and meaty, scuzzy grime beats. Adam Harper said: “The eerie voices seem to stand not just for the apportioned and pruned humanity of the technocratic matrix, but, on Safe especially, for anxiety’s transmutation of real voices and inputs into artificial refrains and phantasmatic figures that repeat and echo in lonely spaces.” TheWire Best Albums of 2015