Build Buildings: Ceiling Lights From Street
Build Buildings

Listened to after his There is a Problem with My Tape Recorder debut, Ceiling Lights from Street suggests that Ben Tweel has taken a significant step forward in the sophistication of his Build Buildings project. The latest material finds the self-described musician, scientist, and philologist developing his sound into polished material that, while it may retain hints of other artists' work, sounds highly individualized. Though Tweel himself namechecks William Basinski, Fennesz, Matmos, Opiate, and Boards of Canada as artists with which he shares some sonic kinship, one name conspicuously absent from the list—Ezekiel Honig—is actually the one with which Tweel has the most in common (in fact, the delicate mergings of simple Rhodes melodies and sampled percussive noises in “Ishihara” and “Let's Go” could just as easily pass for Honig productions as Build Buildings). Each of the New York residents generates his peacefully flowing music using an organic intertwining of computer techniques and natural instruments, with a pronounced incorporation of musique concrete-produced (often household noises) percussive noises a key part of the overall approach; in Tweel's case, that includes wind moving across a moving automobile (“A Solar Panel”), the opening of an envelope (“Ilicoastal”), and the click of a desk fan button (“Elevators, Escalators”). In a given Build Buildings piece, softly lapping clicks form placid rhythms while found sounds and manipulated guitar effects account for the streams of textural detail that flow overtop. “Islands” is representative of Build Buildings' tranquil side, with glistening bell tones and ambient hum combining to create a gamelan-like setting. The comparison extends only so far, however, as Tweel's Build Buildings material is heavily guitar-based whereas Honig's isn't. At times the instrument is recognizable (such as in “Letter Codes,” where a subtle head-nodding rhythm adds a lulling effect to the guitar's stutter and shadings) but more often than not its natural sound is altered beyond recognition and so functions as pure sonic material within a given piece (in “Skatal,” for example, the guitar sounds are refracted into fragmentary flickers). In a strange way, Tweel's fresh music feels like music perfectly designed for the early morning as its understated yet nonetheless bright uplift feels suggestive of a new day's promise.

September 2008