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Ben John Robertson "To Reach You"
New material from Ben John Robertson
Ben John Robertson's latest release, "To Reach You", is a fabulous collection that explores abstract and abrasive but ultimately beautiful environments often defined by feedback, noise, and jarring tones. Over the course of nine tracks "To Reach You" takes the listener on a sometimes challenging but always rewarding aural journey.
"North Shore" opens the disc with rich waves of feedback-drenched sound with a minimal melody buried deep in the mix, repeating, swelling. There's a hypnotic effect here, something that draws in the listener, focusing the senses to a fine point where nothing else exists. As time passes greater details become apparent, nuance and subtlety that hadn't previously been obvious.
"Cities Like These" follows, a high pulsing tone setting the scene. As things progress the sounds become heavier and more abrasive, a wash of noise that eventually overtakes everything else, growing and building until it reaches a point of perfection and then starts to quiet down again, eventually becoming a low tone of static that plays over top a small melody.
Title track "To Reach You" is an epic long form piece where static plays over a sustained note, an interesting approach to oblique motion. Out of the noise a deeper tone with jagged edges takes shape and form, building on the established order to create something stronger and more engaging. Imagery of tunnels and caverns are suggested by the sound, along with other mysteries to explore.
"This Good Summer Light" sees a return of themes and melodies from the earlier "North Shore", giving the disc a cyclical element and a connection between tracks. It's an effective technique which works particularly well in this instance, drawing the listener back into a specific ideal within a new musical environment.
"Come Fly With Me" serves as a bridge between two tracks, a nice way to shift from one space to another with minimal distraction. It's a seamless transition and if you turn away for too long you'll miss it, but if you take the time to listen carefully you'll be pleased with the results.
"The Destruction That You Say You Need" follows with a deep and rich organ sound, a crisp and clean tone that stands in stark contrast to the looping feedback which has characterized the disc to this point. It's a radical change, a significant departure, but a very well executed one that demonstrates a totally different understanding of environment and dynamics.
"Sun Falls" begins in a similar vein, a beautiful piece where sounds drift and flow into each other, smooth and warm like a lullaby. As time passes, a wash of static begins to rise up through the track, quiet and subtle at first, but eventually reaching a point where it overtakes the earlier beauty and warmth of the track, replacing it with a wall of static and distortion that leads into "This Good Summer Light, Two" where we're greeted by another return of earlier themes.
"North Shore, Transmission" closes the disc, bringing together ideas from most if not all of the preceding tracks, revisiting and resolving themes and bringing the listener back around to where they began. I like the circular nature created by this track, it gives the idea of a completed journey and a successful return. Really nicely done.
After careful and considered listening it's clear to me that "To Reach You" is a fine example of the beauty in chaos. With each time I listen there's a stronger connection in my mind between Robertson's music and the idea that wonderful things can be found in unexpected places. Needless to say, I can assure you that there are a great many wonderful things to be discovered on this release.
rik - ping things
last updated 3/2/11