By: Grant Kammer
Wing Vilma’s debut album on the Detroit record label Young Heavy Souls, Safe by Night, is the antithesis to many preconceived notions of electronic music. Miles Coleman, arranger, producer, musician, and songwriter behind Wing Vilma injects new life into what is so often an artificial genre.
Listening through Safe by Night it can be difficult to label it an electronic record at all. Within the heart of this record are organic, found and scavenged sounds set in an electronic context. Watered with emotional intentionality Coleman’s lush arrangements grow like a seed planted in fertile soul. This sounds like Peter Gabriel’s solo work, more worldbeat and jazz, while also being more personal and intimate than others of the genre. Wing Vilma’s Safe by Night is what I imagine it’d sound like if Flying Lotus did a rainforest themed record and recorded it in a botanical garden.
Safe by Night breathes. It sweats and pulses. It is where artists using electronic elements in their craft need to take their work in order to retain the human elements at the core of all music making.
Perhaps some of this albums personality and liveliness comes from Coleman’s artistic process and production techniques. He collects field recordings, electric sounds, and acoustic instrumentation, often for years before they are utilized, and arranges them into the sprawling, complex, and intricate compositions we hear on this record. It is not uncommon to see Coleman with his iPhone microphone in hand looking for his next sample at a show, a park, or walking down the street. The work becomes intimately tied to Coleman’s experience’s and literally grows from them. The sounds we hear on this record are localized geographically, and could be thought to represent an auditory diary of sorts. We hear the bird calls, wind storms, and melting snow ripped from the artist’s life and recontextualized with purposeful emotional effect.
Wing Vilma recognizes that while there are so many noises that can be made on a computer so many more sounds are irreplicable. By injecting ‘real’ and organic sounds into Coleman’s electronic compositions gives them a living, tangible, and nostalgic feeling. This is work no algorithm can produce. This is undeniably human.
While not a dramatic departure from Coleman’s past work under the moniker of Michigami, Wing Vilma’s debut represents a matured artist emerging with redefined intentionality. Wing Vilma, a name chosen for its deliberate ambiguity, is certainly a name that will grow with the artist perhaps even as their work takes them beyond the shores of Michigan. And while Wing Vilma’s previous music retains that element of geographic specificity, it is too ambitious to contain within a name representing solely the sounds of Michigan. For a longtime listener of Coleman’s work, the name change is welcome, and feels like a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis to take wing.
Keep an eye on Wing Vilma as they continue to work with the independent label Young Heavy Souls. Fans can expect new releases soon but in the meantime, draw a bath and listen to Safe by Night on Bandcamp, or Spotify.