Another part taken from Benbecula’s massive 13 disc Minerals Series’ release. It’s a full-length album comprised of nine tracks and Michael Santos’ debut at that. This is an ambient excursion and it starts off with the beatless introduction “Sounds Like Deja Vu” some hint of glitch and heavily processed guitars, yet warm sounding and kind of dreamy atmosphere. “Org” is based on sounds recorded or played in reverse, a quite cinematic continuation of the previous track. It would be interesting to play this track in reverse and then listen to it. “Light 8″ got slowly progressing synth-washes fused with field recording like sounds, such as sighs and freely flowing shower nozzle water combined with ordered ground failure sounds. This and remaining songs all create a collection of flowing ambient tracks made for the less hectic part of the World.
“Vernor Vinge” is an exclusive 12-inch release by Benbecula featuring their artist Christ. The artist in question (still bizarrely named) is definitely one of Benbecula’s strongest shining stars and let there be no doubt that it is well deserved! Christ’s output this far has been outstanding and his status as recording artist is beyond being well cemented. “Vernor Vinge” is a collection of four of Christ’s productions and although they all demonstrated fine production indeed they’re all forged in the same mould and that makes them kind of generic and that includes the remixes as well. Sure, the warm fuzzy analogue feeling is present, but the excellent intricacy and solitude of the “Pylonesque EP” is not really there. Christ is undoubtedly a very talented electronic musician, helas this is not his strongest work. Nevertheless it’s good soothing electronic music produced and released in 2006 on 12-inch vinyl at that, by the uninhibited Benbecula, and that’s got to count for something, right?
“Awakes” is Syntaks’ debut album recently released by Benbecula (MAY 2006). An well-produced album, however is also yet another release with a to say the least, heavy slant towards what seems to be the ever-growing acoustic aspects of electronica. “Awakes” is a ten track long album where acoustic guitars and vocal elements incorporated in almost all the tracks. Apparently it is the artist Jakob Skøtt that is found behind the alias Syntaks and he has been a life-long collaborator with friend Jonas Munk aka Manual of Morr Music fame. They’ve collaborated on releases before and it can be readily heard on this one as well, in fact Manual has contributed with guitar on two tracks. If you’re not afraid of an acoustic setting, you’ve definitely got a winner in Syntaks’ “Awakes”. Benbecula is pushing forward with the help of their talented roster.
After Benbecula’s massive 13 disc Minerals’ series they press on with hectic release schedule. The current and upcoming releases contain regular albums as well as a limited number of releases taken from the Minerals’ series. Talking Makes No Sense‘s “Surroundings” is one of those releases (MAR 2006), it’s a nine track long album consisting of soundscapes that are all heavily based on acoustic guitar. The album progresses slowly and it is very dreamy in setting. The theme is hard to miss, but I for one miss a more tangible rhythmic structure, bass and less tinkering on the old guitar. In any event Talking Makes No Sense’s album is an as well-produced as it is an pensive, mainly acoustic and thoroughly ambient one and an another quality release from Benbecula at that.
After Benbecula’s massive 13 disc Minerals’ series they press on with hectic release schedule. The current and upcoming releases contain regular albums as well as a limited number of releases taken from the Minerals’ series. Achrid is one of those releases, it’s a nine track long album of live and studio takes. Starting off in the realm of glitch and moving through onto droned-out soundscapes. The rhythmic elements are slowly dispersed until only sonic texture remains. Maybe not what would light up your regular party, but why not and in any event that is clearly not what this musical exercise is all about. The minimal composition is at its best in track number 5 entitled “Waffle” the rhythmic structure is more tangible and balanced compared to some of the other tracks where the fascination towards the actual sounds that can be produced seems to take overhand a little. In any event Achrid’s album is an interesting one and a quality release from Benbecula.
“Seeing and Doing” is it a Benbecula surprise? Not really, since we’re talking about the latest Christ release. “Seeing and Doing” is a lovely release (Incidentally I’m the proud owner of a copy of Christ’s beautiful Polynesque EP and still looking for a copy of his first full-length album.). The EP is comprised of 1 + 4 tracks, starting off with a mood-setting intro directly on to the piece de resistance “Marsh of Epidemics” a brilliant track with plentiful synthesized atmosphere, fairly cold, dry and fused with a superb analogue bassline and then there’s the minimal beat… very hard, crafted with surgical precision and quite excellently combined with the rest of the elements. “Marsh of Epidemics” is a track that flows on relentlessly and causes an instant replay by reflex. The latest Christ release and the remaining tracks reveal the work of a very talented contemporary musician, but let it be said “Marsh of Epidemics” completely steals the show and hence the 1 + 4. Benbecula’s series usually are not that high-numbered so get in there while you still can!
The more I listen to this release the more apparent it becomes to me that there’s a direction within electronic music that focuses on the acoustic parts in an increasingly unbalanced electronic/acoustic mixture. And now it seems like, quite surprisingly I might add, that the Scottish label Benbecula home to among others the talented and oddly named artist Christ, is striking a similar path.In any event that is most definitely the case if the latest Benbecula offering, Reverpahone’s album “Our Heart Beats With Joy (The Curved World Outside)” is anything to go by. On this album the acoustic/electronic experiment is driven to the acoustic extreme. It’s a singer/songwriter anthem with a twist and it comes directly from the Scottish moors. There are clearly musical dangers involved with this approach or as a close music producing friend of mine aptly puts it “It’s not a good idea to try to make electronic music using acoustic instruments and vice versa.” Unfortunately that may very well be the case with Reverpahone’s album.However one thing is beyond doubt and that is that it is an album that is close to impossible to categorise. The same could be said for the label releasing this album. Where will Benbecula go next? Now, there you have a question that is impossible to answer.
Frog Pocket has previously featured on the Benbecula compilation “Music Volume One and Two” and the self-entitled Alba Absurdia Recordings compilation, which was reviewed here at Electronic Desert in 2002. “Moon Mountain of the Fords” is a seven-track release on Benbecula featuring Frog Pocket and it’s also his solo debut on the label. Starting off with an excellent minimal intro with amplitude of melancholic melody and a hint of glitch and childlike instrumentation entitled “Jupiter Lady Mountain Village” quite brilliant actually. “Oh, The Place You’ll Go” features a nice bassline, beats treatment and some gently played guitar riffs, flowing out into a river made off the lushest of strings, but the slightly nervous beats give you a hint of what to come. “Always Never (Dumfries and Galloway Mix)” contains an array of on and off beats with a lot of trickery influenced by AFX all fused with a quirky melody. Mid-way into the song it breaks down and the beats are accompanied by a healthy bassline and vocals as heavily transformed as the beats, in short very much in the AFX spirit. “Omulad” has a decisive acoustic feeling to it and it is created by the mixture of minimal almost non-existent beats and the guitar making up the main melody of the song, which layers of guitars then join. All in all making it a different sounding and very beautiful song. “Mountain Lady Jupiter Village” is beatless and has a nursery rhyme like melody played on yet another childlike instrument and it’s quite delightful. “My Mental Ass” is reminiscent of “Always Never (Dumfries and Galloway Mix)” in the sense that it contains beats that have gone astray, starting off with a kind of tongue-in-cheek treatment of other musical genres that doesn’t go down to well with me, but hey, I guess it is question of preferences. Actually Frog Pocket succeeds in ripping trough at least three styles or so in this song and yes, the obligatory mashed-up vocals are included. “Hey Hope” is another thing altogether with some solid programmed beats, subtly shifting pace and structure as they move alongside a warm lush bassline, a lonely gentle guitar and a sea of strings. A hint of a sampled vocal can also be detected in this finishing and lovely track. The Frog Pocket EP spans over quite a wide area of electronic music and at times the influences are a bit too visible, on the other hand when they’re not, Frog Pocket makes distinct and fragile music, acoustically influenced electronic music that is both unique and beautiful.
Operator made his debut on the self-entitled Alba Absurdia Recordings compilation, which was reviewed here at Electronic Desert in 2002 and “OS1.1″ is his first solo release on Benbecula. The beatless echoed out guitars in “Infirm” serves as intro to the “OS1.1″ EP by Operator. “Closed Circle” contains a deep bassline, fused with calm beats alongside a beautiful melody and some very disturbing dissonant processed vocals. Apart from the vocals it is very reminiscent of the Detroit based label Minus-inc’s artist “Theorem” line of thought. “Tisch” got a solid programmed drum machine with a distinct 80’s feel to it that’s almost unavoidable with a synthesised hand-clap like that! The female vocal on top (which language is that?) concludes this little quirky but bass filled number. The Detroit trail started is maybe ended in “Das Boggon”. it features a variety of sonic elements one of them which sounds like a coo coo-clock is making up the main vocal (?) part of the song together with a barking dog and some vocoderised speech. You get beats and some intense keyboard playing at that. “For a Whale” is glitchy and features gentle string elements alongside some sort of vocal element or humming. It’s surprisingly acoustic and “ethnic” (forgive me for the choice of words, but I tried to find another, hard and long, but failed miserably) almost “world-music-like” what ever that means. The finishing “I Want to go to Host” starts off in a fairly experimental setting and the choice of instrumentation again is rather “*thnic” after the experimentation has finished a lonely guitar sticks till the end. The Operator EP is versatile, from the Detroit influenced opening tracks onto the finishing experimentations. If you like an interpretation of the Detroit way of doing things and don’t mind some experimentation, you should investigate.
This Benbecula CD comprises two previously released 12″ compilations. As is often the case with vinyl releases they’re hard to come by and the “Music – volume one and two” is an excellent way of solving that problem. You’ll get a to say the least – competent compilation consisting of 14 tracks and as many named artists, well at least if the underscore character counts… Beluga does the honors and opens up with the paradoxically named warm sounding “tundra”. It is followed by Novel 23 who delivers “blink run away to east”, a track with a fair amount of nostalgia, but without looking back to far – a track reminiscient of the sound of the early nigthies, fuelled by a contemporary tempo and some nice melody thrown in for good measure. Fibla joins in from the spa.RK camp with a dubby, glitcy, melodic and great sounding “djam”. Then there’s Mikael Romanecko’s jazzy “evel.all” with beautiful and fairly melancolic claviatur and live drum setting. Romanecko also has the 2001 “To let go” 12″ release on Benbecula to his credit. The fifth track on the compilation is “Cargo Slip” courtesy of Bauri – an excellent track, which is simply best described as another masterpiece by Bauri. The bass, beats programming and melodic components all carry that Bauri patented sound ensuring top class music. Phase 6’s contribution is a strings filled, bass rich track, which is intro-like, and with some added time who knows what would have happened? Great track with an abundance of strings, and it can’t be a bad thing can it? Christ’s “moxeley moy” is a dream-like down-tempo beatless track with beautiful piano chords and some harsher sounding electronic sounds creating nice contrast. And what a sweet nostalgia track Joni’s “Too Stupid” is regardless of the actual titel! Number nine counting from the start is a track entitled “Absorption” Mr Projectile – a storming track with glitchy feeling brilliant beats, strong, strong melody and acute sound selection. Definitely makes me want to hear more. And if there’s such a thing then it’s possibly the best track on the entire compilation, alongside Bauri’s and _’s. Clubbed to death’s “Junk” contains a heavy dose of kraftwerk induced electro influences creating a straightforward track with nice atmosphere. “Tony Blair” is a track by Frog Pocket – the BOC influences are fairly evident, vocal sample handling, melody and downbeat beats programming to show. Frog Pocket is followed by a jazzy feeling aptly named “Retrospect” by East of Insanity” the guitar, the carefully laid out melodies alongside gently arranged drums and hi-hats are the building blocks of this track. Marcia Blaine School for Girls start of their “Ned Rites” with the fairly unusal selection of harp for melody construction, lay some solid beats ontop of that including a harsh sounding highly pitched rhytmic element riding alonside the otherwise harmonic melody. The final contribution comes from _ and it is entitled “London has let me down again”, beats with warmth and forward motion, a forceful build up of the track itself and heartshreading melody and sonic components. Great track and it is a worthy ending to a very strong compilation indeed!