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Ben Woods - Album Review: Dispeller

14 Jul 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Firstly, this is an album which must be played on headphones as otherwise much of it will be lost, and secondly here we have music which is going to challenge a lot of what people expect from that term. However, of the many words used to describe my musical tastes (my children say it is weird, while I would rather use the term broad minded), conservative is not one of them and for me this is a delight. It sounds like an artist who has a blank canvas and then is using different mediums to build up a picture, but while it is textural there is also a great deal left untouched so that each individual element has a greater impact.

Ben Wood’s vocals are deliberately atonal, yet at the same time he is gently crooning the lyrics, so there is the contrast between the style and the tone, while at times there can be delicate female vocals which are wistful and delicate, accentuating the strangeness of his voice. Nothing is off limits, so Speaking Belt has a bowed double bass playing the riff, unusual percussion, and lots of sounds in the background and it almost fades out halfway through before turning into something manic and deranged. What makes this work so incredibly well are these arrangements, as there is often a high use of space which allows everything to breathe, while the production has been sensitive, and one can imagine the musicians just sat there in a room creating this live as opposed to it all being studio trickery. Hoovering At Home is delicate, yet while Ben uses falsetto and gently strummed acoustic to create a picture in the mind, the madness is never far behind with tortured guitar, effects and strange noises. A gentle sax comes in over the top which again throws everything else into stark relief.

All the time this weirdness is taking place, the really clever part of this album is that each song is incredibly well-constructed and arranged, so much so that it is quite compelling throughout with each number having a defined character and one has no idea who we are going to next meet in the asylum, except they will be fascinating to discover. I can imagine Ben looking to the Seventies for some of his influences, with the RIO movement of the likes of Art Zoyd or Present, while Can is never too far away yet it is obvious that Brian Eno also has had his part to play. The result is an album which is forward looking yet will only appeal to those of the more adventurous nature. Is that you?

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )


Year: 2022
Type: Album
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Gig Review: Crushfest @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 07/07/2023
07 Jul 2023 // by Kev Rowland
So it was down to Tuning Fork for the first night of the second Crushfest festival. Tonight was going to be Wellington and Auckland bands, and then some of the same will be playing at the second night in Wellington next month.
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I must admit I was not that impressed when I first saw Lost Vessels play at Crushfest, something they later admitted to me was the worst gig of their career, but since then they have improved in leaps and bounds. This has been noticed by others on the Auckland circuit as they are getting more opportunities with better support slots, and I was not at all surprised when they won the Ding Dong Lounge Battle Of The Bands in November last year.
Unwanted Subject - Single Review: Sons of Savages
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So it was back to Ding Dong Lounge on a Friday night for one of their infamous Emo nights, which tonight was a three-band bill with Stray Dogs having an extended set, supported by Altaea and then up first we had Blindr, a band new to me. Blindr are a quartet featuring Bill Caldwell (vocals, guitar), Blake Woodfield (lead guitar), Jack Power (bass), and Charlie McCracken (drums).
Gig Review: Turkey The Bird @ The Ministry of Folk, Auckland - 27/05/2023
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Gig Review: Emily Rice @ Your Local Coffee Roasters, Pukekohe - 24/05/2023
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