9 song CD
Originally released in 2014 by Ben himself on double LP, and by Hope for the Tape Deck on tape
10 July 2015
Listen/download/buy on Bandcamp
Ticonderoga / Light Leaks / Meadowlark / Blues For Ian M. Colletti / The Confused Sound Of Blood In A Shining Person / Two Black Wings / My Lucky Stars / Swing Low, Sweet Chariot / Yellow Roses (Take One) (bonus track not on double LP or tape)
“I take notes from:
– The cosmic awe of Alice Coltrane (and similarly Pharoah Sanders)
– The unfettered squeal of Neil Young guitar solos
– The bird-freedom and ear-whispering-closeness of Arthur Russell
– The friendship-punk of the Minutemen
– The delicious sadness of Hank Williams, Bill Callahan, and Nick Drake
– The wondrous chaos of Charles Mingus’ ensembles (and how tender his ballads are)
– The utter ease of James Blood Ulmer (how he just totally shreds at guitar but he’s relaxed about it and his voice is mellow)
– The slippery time and elegant brute force of Don Caballero
– The unrelenting repetition of Neu! and that one Faust record with Tony Conrad
– The warm, refrigerator-fan hum of Stars of the Lid
– The vanguard guitar maneuvers of John Fahey, Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth, Derek Bailey, Lou Reed, Sonny Sharrock, Jack Rose, probably even Ry Cooder.
I also grew up in Orange County, California (near LA), which has an exquisite history of punk and hardcore – Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Saccharine Trust, X, etc. And I grew up religious, so Christian music is still buried in there a lot, even though I’m no longer a part of any church.”
Sounds like a dream, and it’s all true.
Like a throwback to that punk attitude applied to sounds that weren’t conventionally punk that excited us so much in the ’90s. But with a 360° artistic approach and open-mindedness.
Add such a cover, a perfect representation of the purity of the content with no need for words (except for yes, actually: ECSTATIC JOY), and a multiplier of its power, and we could more or less end the discussion here.
Let’s just add some facts:
1) Ben Seretan.
2) Guitarist, singer and sound designer based in New York.
3) Graduated with honors in music at Wesleyan University, Connecticut.
4) Lots of releases in his discography: experimental albums, collections of songs, collaborations with bands and live soundtracks, most of them available for free.
5) Ben Seretan is his most recent album, it was released in october 2014 in very small runs on vinyl (self-released, 250 copies) and tape (Hope For The Tape Deck, 100 copies), and it’s released now on CD by Love Boat, with a 22-minute extra track (“that is worth the record alone”, as they used to say in reviews).
(What follows is a review taken from the december 2014 issue or Rumore, Italy’s leading music monthly, where it was record of the month. I wrote it, too. I just forgot to mention Lungfish, or Bon Iver, the rest is still valid).
A Telecaster and a heart this big: time for some “ecstatic joy”
Greil Marcus said, in last month’s interview: “Critic doesn’t mean defending our own territory. Doesn’t mean caution or fear of exposing yourself. It’s propulsion, it’s the ambition of reaching the heart of every matter, of telling the whole story. Is there something still pulsating, out there?” So, enough with caution: yes there is, and it’s really out there. This time, even out from the paths and dynamics of the independent music industry. Out, where music is done without thinking about the rest. But by now, you will have seen the cover and understood by yourselves. Maybe not the kind of sound you’re about to hear, but the kind of person for sure.
The man in the picture is called Ben Seretan, he’s a californian singer and guitarist based in NY, and he’s *good*. It’s not a detail: it’s his approach to life and to others that generates music of such intensity. He’s not afraid of showing himself as vulnerable and human; on the contrary, that’s his main force. He’s neither the best guitarist nor the best singer around, but you listen and realize it’s the best thing that could happen, here and now.
He opens his new collection of songs – download via Bandcamp, plus limited runs on double vinyl and cassette – with a marvel called Ticonderoga: organ and electric guitar that give way to a kraut pulsation that runs and stumbles, saturated Mascis solos and repetition of the title as a dreamlike mantra. Jurado with Neu!, Maradona’s second against England, the most energetic and euphoric eight minutes you could spend. You hear it, and the world is yours.
More long and dilated beauty follows, built on the movements of Ben’s sharp Telecaster between quiet and noise, american primitivism and indie rawness, avant twistings and classic rock. Light Leaks, cascading arpeggios and intimate singing a la ‘90s emo (a missing Kinsella brother withou any arty leanings?), inflated at two thirds by a balmy choir. Meadowlark, which emerges from menacing drones with a blues riff and gospel singing, to explode in a slow and loud triumph that tastes like ‘70s communes and Akron/Family at their best. The Confused Sound Of Blood In A Shining Person, a sparse beginning and drums that scatter around the beat, in a crescendo like some homemade Mineral that again explodes around Akron, with title screamed until victory. The narcotic Two Black Wings, a rather standard strings-and-arpeggios thing up until midway, but then the choir comes and we all leave in peace. As we leave in peace with Swing Low, the standard at the end of the album, a slow that pushes forward simple but unrelenting to the final drones and feedback. Ecstatic Joy indeed, the tattoo is right.
And this is what others said.
“Ben Seretan is stark in lyric, sincere in voice, practically visual, and brilliantly ready at the pick-and-strum. It’s a pleasure to be blessed with a track like this so early in the season. STOKED at what’s to come!”
(Tiny Mix Tapes)
“One heck of an album. The kind that, right from the start, you know you’re about to dive head first into another world, escaping the one you inhabit. You disconnect from the room and belongings around you, and let the symphony of sounds fill your ears. Before you know it, you are transported somewhere else entirely. On his self-titled record, musician Ben Seretan does just that. Avail your ears this gorgeous, sprawling, and epic journey through aural space. Each of the eight tracks here feels like a spiritual experience, something comparable to a meditation. Even though Ben Seretan clearly states he does not believe in God, Ben Seretan manages to be spiritual without being religious. These repeated guitar pickings weave fascinating, nostalgic sonic textures, ones that may transport you to your own childhood.”
(A Buzz In My Ears)
“This is the story of music. Or the story of music as it was and should have stayed. Because three minutes and thirty seconds of visceral fist pumping is great when you need to get up for work at 5:30am but music should have a place in our lives that rarely inhabits today. That in which a record can consume you fully, leaving room for no other activity. A proper record is like reading a book. So go read Ben Seretan.”
Well, I know I’m not the one who’s supposed to say it, or maybe I should say it only as a journalist who, with good luck and perseverance, somehow discovered Ben Seretan, and not as his current label boss, but this is strong stuff. Very strong stuff.
Stuff that had it been on (the first that come to mind, all extremely likely) Sub Pop, Bella Union, Matador, 4AD, Drag City or Constellation, with the kind of budget that these labels usually have, would be in all your houses since last october.
Never too late.
Torino, June 2015
-> BEN SERETAN Bowl Of Plums (LB 15)
<- ALTRO Prodotto (LB 13)