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Ben Vida - Esstends-Esskends-Esstends

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Artist: Ben Vida

Album: Esstends-Esskends-Esstends

Label: Pan

Review date: May. 9, 2012


Ben Vida - "Qweek Plus Enner (Outro Too)" (Esstends-Esskends-Esstends)


Iím not even going to deal with that title, except to say curse you, Ben Vida, for making that damned Pet Shop Boys song play in my head again after a too-short break of many years. Thatís only the first way this record plays with my mind, which it does quite well even when itís not supposed to. I doubt he really wanted to make me think about the Pet Shop Boys; this music is quite psychoactive in many other ways.

Vida, formerly of Town & Country, Pillow and Bird Show, has jettisoned song craft and most of the instruments he used to play in favor of a full-on engagement with synthetic sound. His instrument for the past few years is an analog-digital hybrid system that gives him both the pinpoint precision of computer control and the physical impact imparted by modular synths.

Vidaís spent a lot of time on stages over the past decade and a half, but this record also articulates a wish to be somewhere else. Heís at the controls, and you, listener, are in a unique sonic space projected by the music. Heís selected frequencies that are calibrated to manipulate the workings of your inner ear so that you hear sounds that arenít necessarily there, and locate them in places where they definitely arenít. Like one and a half inches inside my skull, on the right, and scuttling quickly towards a spot just to the left of my first vertebra. Wait, itís gone, and thereís another traversing the exterior of my skull on the left. At least, thatís what the more elongated, squiggly tones do. There are also short, reverberant reports that tumble down upon the top of my head like the footsteps of a dozen rappelling spiders, all wearing tap shoes, who have forgotten to take their restless leg syndrome medicine.

If this record was a drug, youíd pay a lot more for it than you will if you spring for the typically deluxe PAN pressing, which comes packaged in a sleeve that gives off a strong whiff of New Car Smell. Breath deep, itís lovely even if it might take years off your life. My apologies to anyone who expected a serious analysis of an undeniably rigorous execution of psychoacoustic phenomena, but what can I do? Itís messing with my head.

By Bill Meyer

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