“Basically this album is about being in love, old American music, and Jesus.”
Continuing his ongoing quest to occupy something like 15% of my Top 20 Albums of 2012 list, Ben Seretan ’10 (I was going to write “of Duchampion fame,” but at this point I think “of Ben Seretan fame” is more appropriate) has got a new record on BandCamp. It’s called New Song, capping off a loose trilogy that includes last year’s New Music and 2012’s New Space, and it’s unsurprisingly fantastic, cycling through Americana-tinged originals, blues standards, and 48-minute boombox drones (okay, there is only one of those) with fluent ease. Between recording New Space, making a music video, dropping a collaborative LP with Portland band The Early, and materializing at Wesleyan to open for Oneohtrix Point Never in October, Seretan has stayed pretty busy in 2012. Somehow he has still made the time to take the audio of Grand Central with me next week. (Leave a comment if you want to join us.) (Serious inquiries only, please.)
Seretan recorded the album this summer, in a single afternoon (no overdubs), while in residency at the Wassaic Project. He wrote and rehearsed it in an old cattle auction barn. You’ll recognize a few of the originals from his performance on campus in October. According to Seretan, the setting strongly influenced the album’s thematic qualities:
When I arrived at the Ben Seretan/Oneohtrix Point Never show at Eclectic, it appeared through the windows that nobody was there. How strange, I thought: Oneohtrix is beloved by many ambient music fans at Wesleyan, as well as fans of Daniel Lopatin’s other well-known project, Ford and Lopatin, and Ben Seretan ’10 is an old friend to us, albeit an old friend who happens to be a very talented and prolific musician who was in beloved Wesleyan band Duchampion.
When I got through the door, though, the room was in fact almost full; everyone was sitting on the floor, legs folded, in contemplation of Seretan’s spare, guitar-and-vocals compositions. He has described his most recent solo album, New Space, as an attempt “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.”
Back in February, I posted about New Space, a fantastic collection of measured guitar buildups and stirring drones by homegrown guitar hero Ben Seretan ’10. The Duchampion alumnus recorded the record alone in a friend’s Greenpoint studio during the Superbowl. There was no bass or drums, because who needs bass and drums?
If you need bass and drums, Seretan writes in about In Two, an unsurprisingly stellar collaboration record between The Early, a Portland-based indie rock outfit, and himself. The album features more masterful six-string arpeggios, more emotionally fragile tales of driving cross-country and sleeping on porches—as well as full-band noise flare-ups (“Drive to Michigan”), feedback-laden spoken word (“All Dogs”), and muted guitar pop (“Onion Boy”). Lyrically, its themes include “dogs, Parsifal, stairs, driving around and listening to music, sleeping in places and on things, intimacy, earth cracking.” It’s also a good bit more song-driven and instrumentally varied than New Space, if that’s your thing.
As the album’s press release explains,
Earlier this semester we posted about New Space, a fantastic new indie-rock-meets-ambient recording by Duchampion alumnus and all-around genius emeritus Ben Seretan ’10, who skipped the Superbowl and hung out in his friend’s Greenpoint studio to record the five tracks. “The whole thing was recorded with nothing more than guitars, amps, and delay pedals,” I raved at the time, “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.” (Am I a fanboy or am I a fanboy?)
Today, Seretan sends word of a new video he completed for “What Would You Do If You Were Me?,” his whopping nine-minute opener. As you can see from the embed above, it’s green and hazy and fuzzy and blue in all the right places—a mostly perfect visual counterpart to Seretan’s textured, slow-burning guitar compositions. It’s an all around Wes party, too: the video was directed and produced by Angus McCullough ’10, with mad help from Sam Jones ’10 and Josh Koenig ’09. Check out their finished result here, or scroll on for a very brief explanatory interview with Seretan himself.