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Ben Fleury Steiner "As a Means Through Which I Can Speak"
New music from Ben Fleury-Steiner of Gears of Sand.

"As a Means Through Which I Can Speak" is the latest release from Gears of Sand's Ben Fleury-Steiner and I would have to say that it's one of my favorite releases from the consistantly strong label. There's a very engaging spatial element to the songs on this disc, a real feeling of otherworldlyness that I find very compelling. Truly a disc that bears further investigation.

Track one, "Distance is an Accomplishment of the World [part 1]", opens the disc, a spiralling work of space music, where sounds shimmer and shine through the soundfield, moving in and out of the listener's frame of reference. It's a nice piece to open the disc, a very organic track grounded by a human sensibility but retaining an otherworldly quality that keeps it engaging.

"As a Means Through Which I Can Speak [part 1]" follows, playing along similar themes and ideas but presented in a much more automated style, a robotic parallel to the humanity of the previous track. Tones drone and play around eachother, overtaking melody and theme to the point where it seems almost an afterthought. Yet despite this apparent robotic element to it, the track retains a character and feel about it that fits well with the disc's earlier work.

"Distance is an Accomplishment of the World [part 2]" is next, featuring a blend of the organic and the automatic sounds of the two previous tracks. It's an effective mix, creating an element of suspense and mystery while still being able to connect and identify with the listener. Very well done.

"Tommorow is the Plan She Lays Me in Front Of" features a nice mixture of both drones and loops, circling eachother, building on eachother's strengths. It's an engrossing track, a spiralling pattern that draws the listener deeper and deeper under it's spell. Very engaging.

"As a Means Through Which I Can Speak [part 2]" again runs parallel to earlier work, the world seen through robotic eyes. Once again drones take center stage over melody, but this time if one stretches the imagination a little, one can hear phrases and tunes in the drones, shapes and recognizable forms to identify with. Impressive.

"A Voice, A Silent Cry, Forever Remaining in the Air" comes next, a piece that incorporates high pitched tones and distortion as a basis around which to structure itself. The track has certain meditative qualities about it as a result of the tones, certain forms that work effectively as a relaxation tool. I feel somehow at ease listening to it.

"Distance is an Accomplishment of the World [part 3]" is up next, a stifled drone growing in strength and form. As the track progresses, other tones are introduced, some very clearly defined, others less so. Slight melodies and sparse phrases mingle through the track and a greater shape emerges.

"My Breath Dissolving Into Smoke All Over Me" closes the disc, a solid layering of drones that twine and wrap around eachother over the course of it's 14+ minute length. There's a real depth of sound to this track a real attention paid to creating a dense expanse in the soundfield, a sense of immersion, and it works very effectively. A lovely way to end the disc.

Without doubt, "As a Means Through Which I can Speak" is a thouroughly enjoyable disc and a fine addition to the Gears of Sand catalogue. Fans should be happy that Ben Fleury-Steiner has time in-between label duties to make music as appealing as this, and we should hope that he's able to free up some of those duties in the future so that he'll have time to make more.

rik - ping things

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last updated 04/22/11