There are some obvious similarities that pop out when comparing Coracle with last year's self-titled debut LP from Walls. First, there's the uncannily similar artwork—a swirling mess of reds, purples, and blues. Then, there's the fact that both releases have a tracklist of exactly the same length, comprised of a mere eight songs (although this LP does run about 10 minutes longer). And let's not forget that both Walls and this, the duo's sophomore LP, represent some of the more adventurously uncharacteristic outings on the venerable Kompakt imprint. But most of all, there's the music, and even that really hasn't changed much, as Alessio Natalizia (perhaps better known as Banjo or Freakout) and Sam Willis are still using their collaborative project to explore the possibilities of richly melodic, indie-tinged techno. The only major difference is that this time around, it all seems even better.
Where Walls had a number of solid gems mixed with its share of forgettable tracks, Coracle is a more focused effort, one in which the pair builds all of its songs around the same basic formula of tender electronics, processed guitar, and non-lyrical vocal layers. These fundamental elements are then infused with a variety of influences, yielding diversely worthwhile results. On songs like album opener "Into Our Midst" and lead single "Sun Porch," Walls come off as a less cerebral Teengirl Fantasy or a more tender Blondes, moving in what seems like an at least partially improvised fashion between dense instrumental landscapes to that eventually peak at with moments of compelling dance music. A few of the usual sonic suspects can be found here, with touches of Krautrock appearing in the LP's most meandering tunes, "Il Tedesco" and "Ecstatic Truth," while "Heat Haze" gets as close to any sort of chillwave reference point as the duo is willing to venture. And, of course, no Walls record would be complete without a few selections dedicated to swelling, emotive ambiance, represented best on the gushing mess of bright melodies and crackling percussion deemed "Vacant." But for all the aforementioned attempts, "Raw Umber/Twilight" is where Coracle's message rings truest, seemingly bringing together the best parts of the album's other explorations and condensing them into one potent, memorable slice of gloriously warm techno.
Throughout Coracle there is a steady ease with which the songs flow, and, save for the occasional dip in momentum, it is this effortless movement which holds the album together, so much so that—to its credit— if you don't pay attention, the songs can really pass by without much notice. In doing so, Walls has created an album that resonates on a number of levels. Whether as background music for one's day-to-day or as a receiver of one's full attention, it is truly an enjoyable record that is prepared to fill whatever space is asked of it.