Working from ‘The Vennel’, his home studio in South Queensferry, Scotland, Ben Chatwin creates a musical language permeated with a tension between electronic and acoustic worlds. His new album Staccato Signals is set for release on 6th July 2018 through Village Green Recordings. Staccato Signals is a bolder and more ambitious record than anything he has written before, largely the result of relinquishing different levels of control over the musical process. What emerges is a daring, vivid and emotionally-charged music unshackled from a traditional sense of structure and genre. It’s an album that smoulders with darkness, yet is laced with melodic glimmers of light. Throughout the album mournful strings are engulfed by harsh, synthetic tones and disorienting climaxes of electronics. But while these jagged, synthesized textures needle the album together, the acoustic instruments that feature throughout the album continually provide a human counterbalance.
We asked Ben to give us 3 releases which have influenced him a lot during his musical career.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Early teens were taken up with noisy guitar music – the Smashing Pumpkins being a band that had a profound effect. It’s noisy but has these lovely intricate moments. What Billy Corgan brings to the table is that overblown angsty element that I think has stayed with me in some way. ‘Bodies’ still sounds great today. There were some great guitar bands around in the 90’s but the Pumpkins seemed to tap into that alienation/awkwardness of being a teenager. Unlike Nirvana, who also had a big impact on me, I got to see the Pumpkins live which was a loud and intense experience – both things I still look for in a live performance.
Aphex Twin – Drukqs
Late teens/early twenties, I had moved to University and discovered drugs but more importantly discovered electronic music which at that time was dominated with what Warp records were putting out. Aphex and Autechre both blew my mind but Drukqs was released right in the middle of that period of my life and covers the whole range of different styles in one cohesive album, ambient, techno, piano interludes – he has this ability to make music sound like its so easy to make. Given how busy and hectic his music is the production is breathtaking at times.
Ben Frost – Theory Of Machines
Hearing this album for the first time was a strange experience of feeling like I was hearing something completely new but also something incredibly familiar. I’d never heard anyone mix electronic music with heavy guitars and classical music – it seemed so groundbreaking but such an obvious thing to do. Despite being at seeming opposite ends of the spectrum it made ambient and noise music combine in a fluid way. Frost’s follow up to this album By The Throat is probably a better record but it was this album that seemed to come out of nowhere with a sound that I had been searching for.