|Benny Boeldt — 8 of Cups (May 6th, 2016)|
Benny Boeldt — 8 of Cups (May 6th, 2016)■ Baltimore–based electronic musician associated with the Wham City collective, known as Adventure as well as his own name.Location: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Album release: May 6th, 2016
Record Label: Carpark Records
Genre: Electronic |
1 Blue Sky 4:32
2 Tea 2:33
3 Nom 1:44
4 Performer 2:54
5 Have a Pizza 4:10
6 Phone Call 2:54
7 Valley Amnesia 2:28
8 Living Dream 3:27
9 Adagia 2:08Description:
■ 8 of Cups is the beginning of a new chapter for Benny Boeldt, the Baltimore artist also known as Adventure. It’s the first record under Boeldt’s own name after releasing three albums as Adventure on Carpark Records. 8 of Cups veers from wacky to beautiful to chaotic; using gorgeous melodies, hyperactive noise, and off–the–wall samples. The title is a reference to the tarot card, which Boeldt found to be an accurate representation of his life as he made the album. The 8 of cups card embodies the start of a new journey, a transition, growing apart, and accepting one’s faults to move on.
■ The foundation of this strange, gorgeous, other–worldly record is made of VHS tapes. Boeldt began 8 of Cups by culling through tapes of anime, horror, sci–fi, even instructional videos, and collecting hundreds of samples; then arranging them on a digital sampler. Songs like the stuttering “Have A Pizza” and “Valley Amnesia,” with its lovely piano, got their start here. Boeldt began composing via MIDI and altering the samples through various hardware filters, effects, amps, and microphones in his Baltimore studio. With Baltimore artist Sydney Spann’s (aka Sunatirene) contribution to “Phone Call,” the process was almost like the lost–in–translation game of the same name. Using a small part of Spann’s vocal take, Boeldt pitched each sound into a new note, making her voice almost unrecognizable. For Boeldt, the process of making 8 of Cups felt similar to drawing or creating a collage. Working toward an amorphous image in his mind, the result is something unexpected but welcome.AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson; Score: ****½
■ Over the course of three albums as Adventure, Baltimore–based electronic musician Benny Boeldt has modified his style from chiptunes to synth pop to IDM, but he’s always maintained a hyperactive imagination and an intense focus on melody. His 2016 album 8 of Cups is the first album released under his own name, but it’s no less adventurous than any of his previous works. He’s taken all of his past experiences and concentrated their essence, while finding completely new approaches to composition, resulting in the most daring, expressive work he’s ever produced. Rather than writing lyrics and singing them himself, as on 2011’s Lesser Known, he sources vocals and samples from old VHS tapes, building musical instruments out of deconstructed sound fragments. The voices are intensely chopped up and erratic, and they’re combined with jittery, rapid beats, but instead of sounding random and chaotic, they sound meticulously arranged and deliberate. As with releases by VHS Head and Oneohtrix Point Never (especially Replica), he uses video cassette soundbites in a manner that transcends mere nostalgia, especially in the way that Boeldt combines them with pastel melodies and rhythmic complexity. His usage of manipulated vocal samples can also be compared to Boeldt’s fellow Wham City collective members Dan Deacon and OCDJ (whose brilliant, little–known 2007 album Hooray juxtaposed crunk and R&B samples with candy–colored 8–bit melodies), but even they haven’t dreamed up approaches like his. The album’s melodies are sometimes strangely calm and dreamy, even when they’re providing the bed for intense, jackhammering beats, as on opener “Blue Sky.” ■ The album’s most playful, humorous tracks are “Tea” (which begins with a sampled dialogue of a woman asking a man how he takes his tea) and “Have a Pizza,” but even with grin–inducing vocal snippets, they seem inventive and even serious rather than jokey. The album’s most sublime moment is “Phone Call,” which forms a wide–eyed melody out of a brief vocal line by singer Sydney Spann. The ecstatic, beautiful song brings to mind the halcyon days of IDM while sounding completely fresh and original. ■ Clocking in at under 25 minutes, the album is far too short, but it’s so exciting and densely packed with ideas that several consecutive listens are warranted. © Photo credit: Francy Z Graham.
Artist Biography by Paul Simpson
■ Benny Boeldt is an electronic musician associated with Baltimore’s Wham City collective, along with Dan Deacon and Future Islands. Constantly reinventing his sound from album to album, his music has ranged from chiptunes to wistful synth pop anthems to frantic IDM, but it’s always maintained a focus on bright, expressive melodies and playfulness. Originally from Durham, North Carolina, Boeldt attended East Carolina University in Greenville, attending art classes with some of his friends who would eventually form Future Islands. Along with that band, Boeldt moved to Baltimore in 2007 and began creating music under the name Adventure, performing shows with fellow Wham City regulars such as Dan Deacon, OCDJ, and Videohippos. He signed with Baltimore’s Carpark Records, also home to several Wham City–related acts, and Adventure’s self–titled debut album appeared in 2008. The all–instrumental album featured chiming melodies reminiscent of 8–bit and 16–bit video games, but with a pop sensibility. The following year, Adventure and Dan Deacon released a split EP, and Boeldt contributed vocals to Deacon’s ambitious masterwork Bromst. Boeldt also toured as part of Deacon’s ensemble in support of the album, in addition to performing solo concerts of his Adventure material. In 2011, Adventure released Lesser Known, an album of starry–eyed synth pop anthems featuring Boeldt’s own singing. He toured with labelmate Toro y Moi in support of the album. Adventure’s third album, 2013’s Weird Work, was yet another stylistic shift, losing the vocals and embracing complex, stuttering IDM beats similar to early–2000s recordings on Tigerbeat6 or Warp. Boeldt decided to release his next album, 2016’s 8 of Cups, under his own name rather than Adventure. The brief album was a hyper–concentrated blast of colorful melodies, jittery beats, and chopped–up samples sourced from VHS tapes.
BLAKE GILLESPIE | JANUARY 22, 2016 | Interview
By Greg Szeto | June 26th 2008, 1:47 PM | Interview
|Benny Boeldt — 8 of Cups (May 6th, 2016)|