Austin Benjamin Trio: Unraveled, Rewoven

Strategy: Sines of Life

Unraveled, Rewoven is issued as an Austin Benjamin Trio release but really the EP should be as much (if not more) credited to the remixers who participate in the project. On the eighteen-minute EP, The Remote Viewer, Mapstation, Andrew Pekler, and Australian artist C.S.K.A. give thorough and markedly contrasting makeovers to four tracks from the trio's debut full-length Amalgama. Though Chris Pound's double bass and Evan Dorrian's drums are still prominent in the mix, “The Doublethinkers” mutates into six minutes of dreamy, crackle-speckled flow that's very much in that inimitable The Remote Viewer style. Stefan Schneider gives “Resonance As A Colour” a funkily motorik Mapstation treatment that's not unlike the kind of makeover To Rococo Rot (of which Schneider's a member) might bring to it. Pekler dabs at “Xenosphere” in subtler manner by refracting it through treatments without displacing attention too much away from Austin Benjamin's piano and his bandmates' rhythm accompaniment. “Mantra For Napoleon” becomes a meditative and glassy set-piece in C.S.K.A.'s hands, suggestive of echo-drenched tones wafting through the hallways of an immense cathedral. Having artists as highly-regarded as The Remote Viewer, Mapstation, and Andrew Pekler is obviously a coup for the trio and will no doubt help bring more attention to its own music.

Not much information accompanies the Strategy release I received—none, in fact—but the Sines of Life title certainly points the way. Presumably generated using heavily-processed sine tones, the single-track EP forms an interesting complement to Paul Dickow's other recent Strategy outing, the 7-inch Entr'acte release Noise Tape Reggae. Unlike the latter, Sines of Life is beatless, but the two do share a deep dub-inflected production aesthetic that's not dissimilar. The piece begins with whistling cries of the kind jungle birds might produce swooping over a lulling, reverb-soaked haze of synthetic tones and shadings. The background material gradually swells until it becomes a subtly-surging mass, at which time a bass part rather surreptitiously enters. It's an immersive piece that, by the twelve-minute mark, is so multi-layered one can't help but call it oceanic, and seductive too, in that one easily surrenders to its narcotized drift, happy to inhabit its oasis for the release's nineteen-minute running time.

May 2009