Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Artist: Ben Cox (@)
Title: Consciousness and other tricks of the light
Format: CD + Download
Label: Spotted Peccary Music (@)
Rated: *****
Ben Cox has been a musician for thirty years and a recording engineer for twenty years. His interest in music has taken many forms over time, from playing trumpet in jazz bands to singing bass in an informal renaissance music group. His electronic music has been heard in television and radio advertisements, installation projects, and at trade shows, in locations ranging from Indiana to Australia. Although he doesn't have a lot of releases of his own, Ben's mastering engineering credits with Spotted Peccary include albums by Darshan Ambient, Craig Padilla, Paul Ellis, Jeff Greinke, Rudy Adrian, Phillip Wilkerson, Shane Morris, Chris Russell, and many more. 'Consciousness and other tricks of the light' is Ben's second album and an adventurous expedition through the musicality of synthesizers and electronics. It consists of six tracks and clocks in at about 39 minutes. The opener, "Einstein Cross," features a loping rhythm, repeating echoed synth bass pattern, some minimal synth chords and Ben reading text from the Physics StackExchange site on the Jacobian Matrix. To me it sounded a bit like Mitchell Froom meets Joe Frank in the mathematician's study. Sort of sets a mood though. "Delta Waves" is nowhere near as esoteric, comprised primarily of a slow-filtered sawtooth drone, intermittent simple synth melody, light synth pads and floating amorphous arpeggios. It's a new age brain massager for the overly stressed. The base of "Just Begin Again" is arpeggiated synth pattern(s) that Ben builds upon with a glissando lead line and bass. Definitely new age electronica on this one. "Now" struck me as not much more than a rhythmic key tapping (mostly on the same note, but a little variation further on) exercise and low synth drone. "Chirality" might just be the most experimental track on the album and also the shortest at 2:40. It sounds very electric guitar-like (but probably a synth) noodling in a very spacious environment with a heap of chordal distortion in the end. Final track, "Matins," is the longest at 13:07, again with a slow-filtered synth drone and sparse melody, swept by an occasional gust of wind. I'd call it cosmic except for the presence of an undercurrent of some sounds I can only describe as subtle synth farts. Don't really know what the artist's intention was with that, but I found it distracting. So most of 'Consciousness and other tricks of the light' seemed to be a pretty good effort, but there were a few things that could have been done differently that might have enhanced it.


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