Ben Reynolds: Music is the Music Language CD

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It’s no secret that Ben Reynolds has put out a heap of records within a very short time. Pretty much every review of his work begins by exclaiming how prolific he has been recently. Luckily, his work ethic (he has also recently begun collaborating with Ashtray Navigations and he plays bass with The Wow) is matched by a desire to push boundaries and stretch musical ideas. Many of Reynolds’ past CD-R releases have been beautiful marriages of acoustic guitar flurries with amorphous electronic drones. On “Music is the Music Language,” his first ‘legit’ CD and the first release for the Finnish Ikuisuus label, Ben has tangled up his previous musical ideas and created what is perhaps his most abstract and phantasmagoric release yet.

It’s immediately apparent from the first ten seconds or so into the record that something unearthly is going on. “Swing + Maths” begins with a subtle electronic trill with what sounds like haphazardly manipulated hand drums overtop. One instantly gets the feeling of being trapped somewhere on the wrong side of the solar system. Suddenly we’re transported to the bottom of an ocean, seemingly inside a pedal-powered submarine, as “Mother Legato” begins and shifts the musical mood. It can be quite exciting when someone can evoke two such disparate images in two succeeding songs.

On “Spacious Yowl,” we’re treated to some of that delicious acoustic guitar resting atop the diluted remains of a synthetic beast’s mating call. Echoey chirps wrapped up in a gooey amorphous hum are prevalent on the perfectly titled “Overcome Your Infinity (Fornever).” One of the longer pieces, “Bird to Flame” is also one of the more abstract, being composed exclusively with densely layered electronics. “Quester” brings back the acoustic guitar, however Ben’s playing is freer and farther out in the realms of improvisation. Subtly manipulated tribal percussion – undoubtedly produced electronically – on “Curiosity” leads into a final acoustic guitar number, the lush “Serial Hoper.”

There’s no shortage of whirrs, chirps, hiccups and burps in the forty-odd minutes contained in “Music is the Music Language.” But then again, did we really expect Ben Reynolds to rest on his laurels? This is truly engaging, envelope-pushing music, and however far “Music is the Music Language” veers to the left in comparison to Reynolds’ other records, fans of abstract electronic composition should seek this out straightaway.- Bryon Hayes / Foxy Digitalis

New full-length CD from born-again Glaswegian Ben Reynolds combines a title that conflates the obvious with the obviously fucked, as well as a trampoline full of hand-percussion, twonks of steel string and whole choir of wraiths in what sounds like a broadcast from the still-smoking skull sockets of the late Angus MacLise. Comes in a full-colour four panel fold-out digipak. – Volcanic Tongue