BEN COX: Consciousness_ and Other Tricks of the Light (2020)
Updated: Jul 28
“There are magical moments in this album imagined through different scientific algorithms which does all the work for our imagination”
1 Einstein Cross 6:11
2 Delta Waves 8:14
3 Just Begin Again 6:09
4 Now 3:00
5 Chirality 2:40
6 Matins 13:03
(CD/DDL 39:03) (V.F.)
There are albums that seem anonymous to us, like the names of their designers! Ben Cox has been a multifaceted musician for over 40 years. As comfortable as a trumpeter in a Jazz band as a bassist, pianist and guitarist or as a singer of bass voice in a group of singers, the universe of the mathematics of sounds is a second passion that he will deepen as a sound engineer. His interest in electronic music is intricately linked to the experimentation of the structures and musical forms produced by instruments of analog type. The mathematical complexity of the sequenced rhythms and the innumerable palettes of sounds made possible by field recordings and samplings, as well as by both digital and analog synths have allowed him to extend his fame outside the studios for television and radio commercials, as well as various projects such as exhibition shows. And this from his USA to Australia. And the one who made only one album during this whole time, On Water in 2005 on Lotuspike, comes back to us with a solid album which is beyond doubt versus his reputation.
Short of only 40 minutes, CONSCIOUSNESS_ AND OTHER TRICKS OF THE LIGHT is more than a musical adventure. This sound experience is imagined through different scientific algorithms which are reproduced through complex musical structures playing on their equivalences. There are some magical moments in this album which does all the work for our imagination. And it starts with that swaggering rhythm of Einstein Cross which is a kind of trip-hop in free-jazz clothes. An artificial intelligence voice teaches us about gravity and symmetry as our feet literally seek these lessons on the rhythm. Apart from the fact that it's very catchy, especially when the percussions are linked to it, Einstein Cross is surrounded by arpeggios whose funky aromas dance in suspension before giving way to a synth line and its kaleidoscopic spirals that go and come into this universe which opens a door for the rhythmic choreographies of the future. After this ingenious living rhythm structure, Delta Waves brings us into a zone of reverberations whose amplitudes are in all respects in accordance with a type of brain waves coming from the thalamus and which are generally associated with the third stage of sleep. It's a beautiful ambient title which flows between our ears captivating their interest, in particular because of these more translucent lines which take the shape of the arches of the roaring drones and of this ambient melody which shakes its specter at unexpected moments.
Just Begin Again offers a minimalist pattern with a series of scrolling arpeggios with nuances in the sequenced undulations of this harmonic carousel. It makes me think of The Who's minimalist passage in Won't Get Fooled Again, just before Roger Daltrey threw his lungs on stage. A fascinating harmony weakened by short appearances invades our subconscious while Ben Cox adds a bass line, which also plays on the rhythmic dimension of the title, and other elements which enrich this haunting ritornello. I'm sure there's a mathematical rationale behind Now that is part of this breed of title that one has to explain, if not justify, the rationale. Without rhythm but nourished by bass and / or guitar chords whose reflections are misted by ringing, and whose conceptual harmonies slip under these long reverberating snakes, this sound structure, sometimes dense and sometimes thick, establishes a discord which ends up harmonizing without being explained. A concept taken up by the guitar and its reverberating effects, acid blues and tonal discord in the truly short Chirality. Matins ends CONSCIOUSNESS_ AND OTHER TRICKS OF THE LIGHT with a wave that expands in a silent circle like a finger tapping the pristine surface of a lake in the evening or in early morning. Organic lapping, like lava bubbles, rise to the surface to unite with delicate arpeggios dropped by the angels. Two contrasts for two melodies skating on the multiple furrows of the silent circles. What started as a single line from a synthesizer ends in a magnificent track that binds us, from morning to night, to the bewitching charms of EM. Like here, in this wonderful album by Ben Cox which will no longer remain anonymous ...
Sylvain Lupari (July 27, 2020) ****½*
Available at Spotted Peccary Music