The new album from Ben Shemie is a sporadic, intense and expansive exploration of sound through layers strings, electronics, vocoders and clicking beats. Wildly experimental and musically challenging, it’s a hugely varied listen with a lot to digest and heaps of expressive, untethered musical ideas.
Shemie gives us a track by track:
The Departure – Originally this tune was a lot longer but over time I cut it down. It makes sense long in a live context but on an album brevity for this type of music helps. Its the introduction to the story and its instrumental. Bring in the band, the icy glissando of the string quartet, and a few embellishments of feedback synths. Its meant to introduce the band and send us off on our journey.
The Eye – We hear vocals for the first time and its a heavily affected dose of machinery. The music is questioning, a call and response, slightly arabic tinged lines. The whole tunes repeats on itself as the protagonist is thrust into deep space and recollects his childhood.
The Mirror – A very minimal pop song, dark, just the protagonist looking in the mirror. As he ventures into deep space he finds himself alone. With double political entendres of his own life and privileges he is confronted by himself – realizing his space in his old life and society. Stating in the mirror, self doubt creep in.
The Future Indefinite – One of the few instrumental songs on the album. This is a linear string ensemble feature, its middle eastern tinged riffs, spinning endlessly over a deep electro groove. As the universe unfolds before his eyes – space, time, colors all begin to blend together.
The Tower (part 1) – Finally alone and truly gone, we are confronted by the Tower. The Tower looms large over everything and is a sort of beacon in space, or a final frontier. To penetrate the tower is to go further than anyone has gone before. As such, it is a monumental task to confront the tower and thus confront oneself.
The Tower (part 2) – Agonizing self realization. We peek into the deepest recess of our mind. We have breached the tower and we have now self destructed into millions of pieces. No longer who we were, but now another being.
The Passage – Destruction of the body and mind, annihilation.
The Other Being – We have transformed, and maybe we are mad at what we realize of who we are, and what we have become. Almost like a trial, our hero is no longer living or dead, but particles of space, adrift, disparate.
The Past Continuous – At this cold final frontier, our past calls to us through infinity. Reminding us where we are from, what love is. It slowly puts us back together piece by piece and questions who we are and what we are made from. The past is always present. Over old recording of answering machine messages a love song emerges.
The Return – As is suggested by the title of the song, our hero is returning home a new being. What has he found at the edge of the universe but himself – staring in the mirror. Everything has changed, but all is the same too. Remade and reconstructed out of stars, we understand that we are all the same and that deep space is only as deep as the blood running through our veins.