First off, a bit about new label Glass Reservoir. Formed last year to examine the boundaries between electronic and acoustic music, they've challenged a series of artists to make recordings that must include both sound generated synthetically (computer, synthesizer etc.) and sound from the real world (instrumentation, field recording, samples).
The first fruit of this labour is 'Summer In The Box Room' by Benjamin Shaw, which will be released on 25th February, and which sets the bar high for those that will follow. From the first crackles of 'A Dramatic Title' the warmth and atmosphere of this record really draws you in. 'Trouble At Mill' is an eerie wave of bass synth and garbled vocals followed by some backward loops, which leads into the disturbing 'Onions In your Eyes' which for no apparent reason whatsoever made me think of Scandinavian vampire flick 'Let The Right One In'.
'Ms. Chlorphenamine' undercuts some wobbly guitar with the sound of electronic waves crashing onto a microchip beach. The track is bookended by 'Oh Jesus, Close The Curtains' and 'Oh Jesus, Shut The Blinds'. '...Curtains' is a beautifully sparse piano-driven piece which hums like the electric train wires on a wet morning, while '...Blinds' overlays some pensioners discussing the merits of black vs. white gym shoes onto another sparse piece of backing.
The only singing on the album comes on 'All Meithered, Me'. The guitar chords in this are warm and inviting, unlike Shaw's melancholic vocals and lyrics which, to summarise, invite the listener to piss off and leave him alone. 'Milk' closes the album in a suitably downcast style with some discordant sounds casting a gloom over a gentle guitar melody.
This is definitely an album that rewards solitariness - listen to it staring out the window of a train, or alone in a dimly lit room, and immerse yourself in the world that Shaw has created.
You can pre-order the lovingly handmade cd here but be quick - there are only 5 left!
Each track is accompanied by a video - these are being released one by one in the build up to the release date. You can watch a few below and I'll continue to add the rest as they are issued.
PS You should also check out Shaw's brilliant album 'There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet' here.