You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, and the names that have inked Jamire Williams in their Rolodexes are more than impressive – Solange Knowles, Moses Sumney, Blood Orange, Herbie Hancock and Robert Glasper among them. These artists are bound by boundary-pushing, tipping the balance between the mainstream and avant garde, and they often call on Houston-born multi-instrumentalist Williams to play on their albums, and sometimes define them.
Williams himself floats down more on the more experimental side. He spent years drumming in the NYC jazz scene, and his last artist album in 2016 was a collection of calamitous-as-hell drum solos, one of which was covered by indie-electronic whiz Dan Snaith (AKA Caribou AKA Daphni) on his 2017 Fabric mix. But since collaborating with the bleeding edge of US alt-pop – notably with Solange on 2019’s When I Get Home – and signing to International Anthem, the Chicago-based label that nurtures leftfield oddballs such as Angel Bat Dawid and Irreversible Entanglements, Williams has evolved into an idiosyncratic, and totally beguiling, kind of outsider soul.
Forthcoming album But Only After You Have Suffered is a pensive, fragmentary collection of sound collage, electronic whisperings, soul samples, psychedelic devotionals, spectral hymnal-pop and conscious rap that recalls Madlib’s recent Sound Ancestors album and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, refracted through a giant crystal. It’s concerned with the tension between social realities and higher states of consciousness, Williams has said, shading the grey in between with endless possibility and perhaps coming out the other side healed. It’s a stunning listen.