Review : Benjamin Damage – Heliosphere (English version)
It’s out! We were talking about it here. Heliosphere is one of the 2013 albums we were looking forward to listening. The others are coming …
For starters : I discovered Benjamin Damage, with No One, from the album They!Live he produced with Doc Daneeka.
I love (LOVE !!!) the contrast between the filtered, very organic vocal parts and the central part which is more rhythmic and a bit dirtier. I recommend listenning to the whole album.
Benjamin Damage, aka Benjamin O’Shea, has this double culture UK-Germany. He grew up in Wales, we thus presume that (to be confirmed … hopefully soon) he’s been fed with UK techno, garage, and maybe dubstep – for back in the days it was still acceptable. Now settled in Berlin and signed at Modeselektor’s 50Weapons, I think he reached a balance between both musical cultures.
We feel in his previous releases a clear dancefloor pulsion but also a melancholic taste, the signs of a poet’s soul. What a good idea to collaborate with Doc Daneeka for They!Live, which to me foreshadow the Damage color, this very equilibrium (see No One above). Heliosphere, as his first solo album, seems to be the consecration of this between-two-styles research.
Berlin-style, the textures are worked, but although synthetic it is not smooth. And BOOM, back to the other side of the Channel. On the contrary : saturations and controled irrégularities tint all harmonic layers with a rough texture. The result is a somehow gloomy but particularly organic atmosphere. As if you were looking at a beautiful sculpture through distorted coloured glass. Some acid-like tones as well. In the very good Spirals, for instance.
Beats are sharp but it is not about agressivity. They are sharp in their raw, dry and retro side. Dry as one would speak of the acoustics of a room : no countless reverbs on the percussions themselves. Echos evoke closed spaces, though. A cushioned-walls room in a psychic institution. Delirium Tremens. Shivers.
Previous release by Benjamin Damage on 50Weapons was the EP Swarm/Headache. Not a ordinary mosquito swarm above your head at the end of August in the country at your grandma’s. A swarm of hornets, bats and chainsaws. A freaky swarm you don’t want to cross. But it spins, and hits, and spikes. Headache, same EP, is one of those you don’t want to wake up with every Sunday morning. A generally very powerful EP, which to me does not really reflects the taste of the album. But you see, what is better than release a fully dancefloor EP to make the DJ rise to the bait … Mentioning also the compilation Best Of 50Weapons 2012 he mixed.
Is Benjamin Damage launching a new genre, one foot in the UK and another in germany ? I fail to answer this question. There is however a great research in colours and textures. The sculptor Damage associates “traditional” tonal composition methods (speaking of that, please notice that the harmonies of Together perfectly match those of No One (see above for the player). Get ready to mashup.) with the minimal designs linked to techno. As a result we get a sound both dancefloor-aimed and dreamy, both rousing and shrouded in emotions. The perfect example would be Light Year, which reminds me of Spanish Breakfast by Rone and that I would qualify without much hesitation as the best track of the album, with which he starts his mix for the XLR8R Podcast, you absolutely need to listen to … RIGHT NOW (THIS WAY. Oh, and I just remembered that he did another one with Doc Daneeka back in the days.).
Keep an eye on him, he is currently travelling across Europe for a live tour !
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