Willis Earl Beal

Willis Earl Beal


After years of toiling in obscurity, Hot Charity / XL Recordings released Willis Earl Beal’s debut album, ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’, in March 2012. The album’s 11 songs are taken from a series of recordings Beal made whilst living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He arrived without a plan, a place to live, or enough money to live off. He lived on the streets while trying to land a job and began singing to help him cope whilst sleeping rough. He spent days drawing and printing up his flyers, distributing them all over his new city. Eventually Beal found work as the night porter at a motel. 

It was during the late night shifts that the musician from the south side of Chicago found his voice and taught himself to make music. The recordings are a result of what one creative mind can do with a few found instruments and objects; a cassette-based karaoke machine and a $20 microphone. Somehow Beal managed to create warm, visceral and moving music seemingly out of nothing, just a little bit of imagination - it’s practically magic done without any fancy gadgetry, hence the name 'Acousmatic Sorcery'. He made dozens of songs using whatever spare instruments and materials he could find in flea markets, thrift stores and alleyways; a red electric guitar, forgotten acoustic guitars, a lap harp and a makeshift drum kit created from pots and pans.

Beal selected the songs for 'Acousmatic Sorcery' because he feels they offer a look at his development as a musician, and perhaps most importantly: “they represent my experience in Albuquerque. I was there. It happened.”