Wil Bolton

Wil Bolton is a London-based artist and musician. He makes predominantly sound-based artworks for both CD releases and installations, often enhanced with video or photography. His audio work uses guitars, acoustic instruments, vintage keyboards and effects to create warm and emotive melodies, fragmented and submerged among beds of droning ambient textures and environmental sounds.

Wil's work is usually site-specific, based on a certain place, and tends to use environmental sounds and images as starting points in the creative process. The main concept of his work is resonance – the resonance of sound, but also the resonance of a space – its atmosphere and the traces of its history, society and culture, and associated ideas of place, memory and identity. He also takes inspiration from finding beauty in the everyday and in unexpected or overlooked places, taking the time to pause, freeze and explore a moment, experience or emotion.

Wil has released albums on labels including Hibernate, Time Released Sound, Eilean, Home Normal, Dauw, Dronarivm, Hidden Vibes and Fluid Audio. He has also shown his sound and video works in exhibitions at ICA, Incheon Art Platform, Liverpool Biennial and others, and have performed at venues including Cafe Oto, Tate Liverpool and Iklectik.


‘Kochi’ is an immersive, heavily textured ambient album inspired by memories of the Arabian Sea. The four lengthy tracks are all centred around field recordings of Fort Kochi beach in Kochi, a port city in Kerala, South India. The character of the environment is captured in the sounds of lapping waves, birdsong and crow calls, the buzz of fishermen, traders and locals walking in the sand.

These sounds are layered with Indian cowbells and elephant bells, and hypnotic, evolving drones created with a shruti box, melodica and Moog semi-modular analogue synthesizer. Glockenspiel and electric guitar played through a swathe of effects pedals add hypnotic, looping melodic textures and soft, glowing tonal patterns.

  • Written and recorded by Wil Bolton
  • Mastered by Autistici
  • Design by Kirk Markarian
  • Photography by Wil Bolton

Cat: AB092

Release date: October 2019



  1. A Closer Listen

    Kochi, the new album from Wil Bolton, seems to have already arrived in distant lands. As the album opens, birds squawk whilst bells ring like the clinking of masts. Bolton’s field recordings of an Indian port city are reframed by organic-sounding drones. Synth, glockenspiel, electric guitar, and other instruments are spun into delicate gossamer. As the overlaid sounds swell, the sun rises and the events of the day begin.

    This is a luxuriously relaxing album. Its four tracks – “Reeds”, “Ropes”, “Tides”, and “Nets” – speak of a nautical idyll, whose hardships are glimpsed only in a languidly soft focus. At times, you seem to kick back on the shore, the seaside action washing over you. At other moments, you are wheeling above with the cawing gulls. On the third track, a sense of menace creeps in, as the sea reminds us of its sublime power to undo human endeavour. However, the tide recedes; you are left unscathed.

    Returning home after 40 minutes, you may feel rejuvenated and refreshed. However, the material foundation of this album is not a deserted paradise. The distant voices of fisherman speak of the day’s labour. Car horns remind us of urban dwellers hurriedly at their business. There is a risk that their lives have been appropriated and misrepresented. Ultimately, the place and events we experience as listeners are not theirs. Bolton’s music is a dream or distant memory of a place – one which ushers a new world into being. Both of these albums summon a keen sense of time, place, and narrative. But the worlds they evoke exist only for the listener, in the fleeting emotional responses that sound commands.

  2. So What

    Sentori d’oriente che riverberano tra le pieghe della memoria come densa distesa flebilmente pulsante. Sono echi e riflessi che giungono dal mar Arabico a strutturare il nuovo percorso firmato da Wil Bolton, immersivo tragitto sensoriale che proietta in modo avvolgente nel paesaggio costiero dell’India del sud.

    Tra sature correnti sonore modellate amalgamando scie droniche e frequenze sintetiche emergono costantemente frammenti ambientali catturati sul litorale e risonanze acustiche scaturenti da strumenti tradizionali e oggetti trovati. Le risultanze di tale intreccio strutturano quattro dilatati movimenti che si espandono privi di pause e vuoti, generando una deriva ipnotica morbida e totalizzante, che rinuncia ad ogni facile declinazione esotica per restituire nella sua interezza il portato emozionale legato alla scoperta dei luoghi attraversati.

    Un ammaliante diario di viaggio che indaga le potenzialità evocative del suono di una terra affascinante.

  3. Music Won't Save You

    Come già in occasione del lavoro dello scorso anno “Viridian Loops”, sono nuovamente le peregrinazioni di Wil Bolton nel subcontinente indiano a costituire la traccia ispiratrice sottesa a una sua produzione.

    Nel caso di “Kochi” si tratta in particolare di suoni naturalistici catturati sulla costa indiana meridionale, che scorrono come una lenta sequenza in filigrana a quattro brani, tutti di durata di poco superiore ai dieci minuti, all’abituale stratificata coltre di riverberi e impulsi di synth modulari, filtrati nell’occasione attraverso strumenti e oggetti propri delle tradizioni locali. A onde, versi d’uccelli e suoni della quotidianità umana in riva all’oceano corrispondono infatti drone filtrati attraverso pelli e ricavati da shruti e campane, che dialogano idealmente con gli effetti a pedali applicati a prolungate risonanze di corde elettriche.

    Le esplorazioni “sul campo” dell’artista inglese alla ricerca delle radici sonore e culturali del drone restituiscono così in “Kochi” ne restituiscono così una declinazione ipnotica, che senza presentare alcun tratto di esotismo rispecchiano invece tutto il calore di paesaggi materialmente respirati e rimasti saldamente impressi in memorie sospese tra suono concreto e di sintesi.

  4. Vital Weekly

    Via releases on such labels as Eilean, Home Normal, Dauw, Dronarivm, Hidden Vibes, Fluid and Time Released Sound, the name Wil Bolton is perhaps somewhat of a household name by now. His releases appeared in these pages before. For this new album, Bolton uses quite a bit of field recordings that he made at Fort Kochi Beach, in Kochi, a port city in South India. There are birds, crows, people and seaside sounds that were captured and which Bolton mixes with drone sounds that he made using a Shruti box, melodica, Moog semi-modular analogue synthesizer, while also using glockenspiel and electric guitar playing through sound effects.

    I gather that from this description one could easily see where all of this is going, in terms of music; ambient music. Both sides contain two lengthy pieces and they are all variations on the same thing, which is a few lengthy, sustaining drones, coupled with individual sounds, from saying the guitar in 'Nets' or xylophone, bells and a variety of field recordings mixed together. I must admit my head was in a totally different place when playing this, not sleeping or meditating, but just doing some stupid manual labour behind the computer and this cassette was on repeat for maybe three or four times in a single row. I wasn't bored with it, nor lazy to get up and change it, but I rather enjoyed the washes of tones, the soft tinkling of bells, seagull, all on this lousy rainy day and while I couldn't resist thinking of new age music, especially in 'Nest' when the guitar starts to produce these Göttsching like notes. I am no fan of new age music and this new release by Wil Bolton came suspiciously close, but I still would like to give him the benefits o doubt and say it's not new age, but a very friendly form of ambient music.