Seretan ’10 Skips Superbowl, Records Fantastic Record

What would you do if you were Ben Seretan ’10?

What a month it’s been for Wesleyan musical ghosts of semesters past. Prog/jam/funktastic homeys Ishmael reemerged with announcement of a new EP (later previewed on WESU) and a date at Earth House to boot. Mad Wow, back from its Last Show Ever, brought its distinctive funk-inf(l)ected strain of Mad Wow Disease to Alpha Delt just last weekend. Duchampion alumnus Asa Horvitz ’10 popped up in Eclectic Haus last Saturday, fronting new project Point Reyes just before Nat Baldwin took the stage. And now fellow Duchampion guitarist/singer/general ass-kicker Ben Seretan ’10 is back in action with a fantastic collection of sprawling, reverby, mostly solo compositions entitled New Space.

Seretan recorded the entire thing, mostly by himself, at a friend’s studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn during the Superbowl. (According to an entirely scientific, infallible Wesleying poll, at least a quarter of readers didn’t watch the Superbowl. If any of you freaks recorded anything as mesmerizing as “What Would You Do If You Were Me?” during that time block, I’d like to hear it.)

The last record was about finding space, says Seretan, but this one is about filling it. What he means, I think, is wringing simple vocal melodies into mesmerizing refrains, filling the empty spaces with powerful layered echos of reverbed guitar chords, whines, and some powerful solo-picking about halfway through “What Would You Do If You Were Me?” (The whole thing was recorded with nothing more than guitars, amps, and delay pedals, which is especially a feat given how freaking full and textured it sounds, like a loving tribute to the sheer layers of sound the instrument can produce.) (Ben adds that he used an extremely powerful Sunn Scepter amp and managed to rattle the walls.) The first two tracks, both solo compositions, carry this formula to an expansive nine minutes each without ever feeling overlong. Seretan is a veritable guitar hero in Duchampion with a voice like a youthful, full-ranged Black Francis, but he’s also involved in an ambient duo, so no wonder these recordings string together both worlds so excellently. Also of interest is “I Saw The Light,” an a cappella solo Hank Williams cover, and “Ben, Relax. I’m Going to Float Your Skull,” a twenty-minute drone collaboration with a friend. (This post was supposed to go up yesterday, but I briefly closed my eyes during that last track and woke up 45 minutes later, disoriented and confused.)

Anyway, you can cop the whole thing for any price you like over at BandCamp, but scroll on for a brief interview with Seretan about New Space.

When and where were these pieces recorded? Any other Wes people involved?

These songs were recorded at Spaceman Sound, a studio run by some friends of mine in Greenpoint. We recorded everything in one session during the Superbowl. Everything on the record is just me, except for the last piece, which features my friend Benedict. Amazingly, now that I think about it, there were no other Wes people involved.
What’s up with Duchampion?
Duchampion is on a friendly hiatus; life circumstances have prevented us from being all in the same place for the past year. Will and I both live in New York and often play solo sets together on the same bill, Asa just got back from a Fullbright-grant-funded, ninth-month stay in Poland, and Jake has been running a house venue/recording studio and playing with a band called The Early in Portland, OR. As far as I know, we don’t have any plans for Duchampion shows in the future but, as is the case with a lot of recent graduates, shit is up in the air and very fluid, so you never know. The last time we played Eclectic was really, really fun.
What other music projects are you involved with?
I’m involved in a number of varied music projects at the moment, including an unnamed ambient duo and a psych-rock/glam rock band that involves costumes and eyeliner. But they’re both fairly new. I do want to mention the fact that I recorded a collaborative album with Jake’s band The Early back in November. We’re doing the post-production work on that right now, but it may take a while.
How’s post-Wes life?
Post-Wesleyan life is fucking great, what can I say? I don’t think I was ever well-suited to working/living within an institution. Granted, there are many, many Wesleyan people living in New York and I run into them constantly. But I refuse to contribute to the cloud of dread hanging over people who are about to graduate. Shit will work out.
What do you mean by “filling space”? How does the record “fill space”?
When I say I wanted to fill the space, I meant: to have the sensation of swimming in or being embraced by the sound of my guitar and voice, to feel its physical presence pushing up against my sides, the walls, and furniture. Sound is a physical force. We used an extremely powerful amp (a Sunn Scepter) in the studio and the lower notes rattled the walls.

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