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Ben Ruegg - EP Review: Ben Ruegg

29 Feb 2024 // A review by Steve Shyu
Ben Ruegg is one of the most hard-working people I personally know. He's a Muzic.net.nz colleague, he’s a singer-songwriter, producer, school teacher, and the frontman of Channeled, an alternative rock project based in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland. When he’s not beavering away at those roles, he’s spreading the word about the positive influences that music can have on young and old, and how creating music is easily one of the most fulfilling things one can do.

He has once again been practising what he’s been preaching; under his solo project of Ben Ruegg, he has released his first new EP since 2010.

This three-track EP begins with Walking In The Morning, serving up guitar arpeggios over a waltzing rhythm, set at a strolling tempo. Ben’s voice reverberates lightly, adding to the airy tone of the piece. The soundscape is gradually bolstered with delayed guitar lines, bringing forth a lush, ethereal vibe. The bassline is simplistic yet sturdy, holding things together throughout the bridge and the last half of this opening song.

There are moments which are reminiscent of California’s Deftones, as well as kiwi post-rock icons Jakob, in particular, the vocal effects as well as the shimmering, epic guitar sounds, respectively.

With the shuffling of hi-hats and simple snares, minor-key guitar chords, with bassline kept to a stripped-back one-two plods, They Took It All immediately generates a pensive and emotive mood. It’s when the chorus kicks in that the song is projected to another level, with drums picking up energy, guitars reverberate and echo, and the ethereal vibes akin to the previous track is reintroduced.

The lyrics appear to tackle topics of censorship and freedom of speech, as Ben cries “They try to stop everything you say, they try to keep your eyes shut.” According to Ben, this song was based upon conversations he had with his late father before he passed away.

Track three The Turn once again aims for simplicity, as a large portion of the song is made of guitar chords set against stripped-down basslines and a delicate drum beat. Resembling a ballad, the song appears to be dedicated to a lost love or an unrequited passion, as one gets a sense of deep longing and remorse in not only the lyrics, but by the way Ben’s voice strains as he utters certain verses.

By this stage, the ethereal guitar vibe has become a recurring feature on this EP, as Ben closes out this third tune with shimmering and grandiose guitar sounds.

Unfortunately, just as it feels like the momentum of the record is gaining pace, one realises the EP has already come to an end; if only there were another one or two more songs to round out the aural journey, this EP would have felt more complete.

Alas, this is a grand achievement by Ben Ruegg. Not in the sense that it was an explosive or bombastic release, but that he dared to don a new hat and try new sonic approaches.

Where Ben may have been accustomed to chord sweeps and soaring vocals, he adopted a raw sound this time. And the daring shift in song composition almost states “I’m giving this a go, and I don’t mind what people think.” Those who are familiar with Channeled and Ben’s usual sonic styles may be taken aback, but this end product both feels and sounds straight from the heart and it works beautifully with the themes and topics.

For those down with indie rock or post-rock, don’t let this one pass you by. Check it out on all good streaming platforms and follow Channeled for future gigs and other updates!

 

About Ben Ruegg

Ben Ruegg is a musician and song writer. Growing up in South Auckland with his parents eclectic taste of music, combined with his own love of all types of music, by age 12 Ben fell in love with creating music.

In 2010, Ben released his debut EP The Road which was recorded during his time studying Popular Music at the University of Auckland.

Later, he founded the band Channeled and is now actively working with youth teaching music.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ben Ruegg

Releases

Ben Ruegg
Year: 2024
Type: EP
If I Had A DeLorean
Year: 2019
Type: EP
The Road - Remastered
Year: 2019
Type: Album
The Journey
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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