“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.”
Zach submitted an event to be posted? wtf? Zach, please don’t edit this post. It’s already impeccably formatted (thx2u). From Zach Schonfeld ’13:
Oneohtrix Point Never is the stage name of experimental electronic wizard Daniel Lopatin, who’s also known for his work with the duo Ford & Lopatin. Using vintage synthesizers, television samples, and found sounds, OPN crafts distant, weightless tapestries of woozily layered ambient sound. His 2011 masterpiece, Replica, was listed as Pitchfork’s sixth best album of 2011 and described by Consequence of Sound as “like a series of FM radio transmissions from some far-off, twin parallel universe of ours, not peculiar to the point of total alien-ness, but certainly too strange and outlandish to be of Earthly origin.” Listen here.
Ben Seretan ’10 is a Wes alum, guitar genius, songwriter, California native, and member of Duchampion. He described his 2012 release, 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.” You can read about his work on Wesleying and listen to it on BandCamp.
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.
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.)
It’s summer. If you’re in the market for hazy, reverb-happy guitar rock with a solid balance of melody and fuzz, you could do much worse than download veteran Wes-band Duchampion’s fantastic new EP, Purple Clouds. Recommended tracks: “Violent Death,” “City Mind,” everything else.
Duchampion, which most recently previewed these tracks (and more) at Eclectic in February, consists of Will Brant ’10, Jake Nussbaum ’10, Asa Horvitz ’10, and Ben Seretan ’10. This project was put together in one day:
One day in February, we went to Greenpoint and spent the day in the studio. All of the instrument tracks are taken live, together, with no overdubs. Vocals are generally whole takes, sometimes with Asa and Ben singing in the room together. This is our band at a moment.
Worth noting: anyone who buys the EP ($3) gets a discount on the vinyl. Buy or stream at the band’s Bandcamp page here. Sample “Violent Death” below:
Ben Seretan ’10 is always running around making pretty music. You might have heard him playing with Duchampion, or winning Awesomefest with Sweaty Boys, or making people weep into their paninos at Red and Black. This year, when he hasn’t been doing those things, he’s probably been (a) practicing for one of said performances, (b) taking advantage of happy hour at ION, or (c) putting together a thesis exploring the music of Arthur Russell. Who’s Arthur Russell, you may ask? Ben explains:
Arthur Russell is a queer Iowan Buddhist cello player country music lover swimmer disco maker avant garde Indian music bi-coastal hip hop drum machine singer. His music is about love and fun and swimming and being close to people and being so happy that you cry.
Ben writes lyrics about the tiny things that people think about when they’re not talking, like the anatomy of the human hand or the visual structure of trees. His songs are catchy, fun, and technically tight, but when he breaks through his veneer of restraint, he has a whole lotta vocal and guitar power to release. His musical persona is a hardened wild west cow herder dressed proudly in Donna Summers’ favorite sequined dress–he’ll make listeners feel nostalgic for an ill-defined Old West as he performs under a disco ball. The man has a solid stage presence.
This Friday, Ben will be performing the recital part of his thesis. He’ll play some Arthur Russell songs with some musically talented buddies, he’ll play some Arthur Russell songs by himself, and he’ll play some of his own songs.
Date: Friday, March 26
Time: 9:00 PM
Place: CFA Hall (the old CFA Cinema)
Ben Seretan ’10, recently out of commission with the gastro, is celebrating recovery with a live performance at Red & Black tonight, part of their Monday night music series:
They have music at Red and Black on Mondays. I am performing today. I will be doing mostly Fleetwood Mac covers.
Event will not interfere with your CHUM lecture attendance or Body Shot Monday.
Will feature songs of heartbreak for those of you who want to cry post-valentine’s tears into your paninos.
Date: Monday, Feb. 15
Time: 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Place: Red and Black Cafe
So, it turns out that ALUMS CAN ACTUALLY PRODUCE GOOD MUSIC. SURPRISE SURPRISE. TOTALLY UNEXPECTED. Ex-members of Joe Jones, Jon Earle, Andrew Carr and Mike Zimmerman (All ’08), and Ben Seretan ’10 have put out a record as Cool Trucks, which is called Cool Trucks. It is really sweet, and you should definitely give it a listen. It sounds kind of like Clinton-era indie rock.
The link: cooltrucks.bandcamp.com.
More info: http://mutewith.blogspot.com/2010/01/free-music-cool-trucks.html
(via auralwes and my housemate)