In the year and a half since Willis Earl Beal most recently appeared in the Reader, he’s settled in Portland, Oregon, and released two EPs: Through the Dark, which came out in March, and A Chaos Paradigm, which he dropped last week under the name Nobody. Beal has grappled with nothingness and the unknown in song for as long as I’ve known him, and he continues those explorations on A Chaos Paradigm. Though Beal has taken on a new name, his new music is an extension of the genre-agnostic antifolk he’s developed over the years.
A Chaos Paradigm sounds like a rejection of sparse, clean, relatively austere material Beal has been producing lately—it’s muddy, discordant, and sometimes shapeless—but the creative voice and resonant, vulnerable vocals are distinctly his. And as confrontational as Beal can get, he’s equally transfixing—his music feels like it effortlessly flows out of him. I particularly enjoy “Monuments Fall.,” which blends a fragile, fuzzy organ, shambolic lo-fi percussion loops, and what sound like synthetic turntable scratches; Beal almost hides his singing beneath this honeyed cacophony, but his soulful vocal melody makes the whole song crackle.
Portland arts shop and label Tender Loving Empire released A Chaos Paradigm, and all the proceeds from the EP will go toward an event called the Homeless Potluck, which takes place Saturday in Oregon. Organized by Beal’s girlfriend, Amie, it aims to bring together people who are fortunate enough to have a place to call home and those who struggle to get by without one. For more information, head to the Homeless Potluck’s GoFundMe page.