Stuart Benjamin

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Born and resident in South Wales until the late 1990s I grew up listening to a combination of Male Voice Choirs and Death Metal. If I’m honest, both are with me still. I later moved to Wiltshire, where I am now resident in the same town as Andy Partridge of XTC. I’ve never met Andy. He’s never met me. I’m not sure what we’d do if we did meet. I’ve always listened to music that’s off-the-beaten-track. I’ve just got to listen to something new, something different. It’s a compulsion. I just can’t stand blandness in music. I must have excitement, experimentation in what I listen to. This is why I am here. Outside of all this prog-rock/psychedelia/free-jazz/punk/experimental stuff I also listen to classical music and opera, and I sing choral pieces both sacred and secular. Not because I’m any good at it, but because it’s hard to sing and the challenge is everything. My favourite band are Cardiacs, my guilty pleasure is Stevie Wonder. Go figure.

Articles by Stuart Benjamin

Hinterlandt – Ode to Doubt

Perhaps some of you missed Hinterlandt’s Ode to Doubt when it was released on Art as Catharsis back in January? Well, now’s your time to make amends, and make friends, with this sublimely gorgeous recording.

Dvanov – For Gathering Dust

Another Russian band to watch out for, Dvanov’s latest album has all the dark sophistication of 1980s Goth but with all the verve of modern Psych-Rock. Well worth a punt if you have the time.

Tim Bowness – Lost In The Ghost Light

Once more Tim Bowness delivers an album full of sublime heart-breaking and life-affirming prog. ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ expands Bowness’ music into concept album territory with a somewhat timely reminder of the glories lost by a fictional 1970’s rock superstar. Well worth a look.

Cobalt Chapel – Cobalt Chapel

Cobalt Chapel reeks with the possibility of forbidden pleasures or occult horrors – the possibilities of sex and violence – that blazed down a cathode ray tube late at night.

Mister Ott – Single Shot

‘Single Shot’ is certainly a strong contender for one of this year’s better jazz releases, has a great deal of crossover appeal, and transcends the genres from which it was born, and by which it was influenced. A stunning odyssey into jazz-funk-fusion.

Lachlan Dale, Cameron Macdonald, and Evan McGregor from Hashshashin

Stuart Benjamin asked the guys behind Australian band Hashshashin some questions. “If I had to describe it to someone I would say something like “heavy progressive rock with psychedelic, experimental, drone and Middle Eastern/Oriental influences.”

The Sea Nymphs – On The Dry Land

On The Dry Land is a heady mixture of psychedelic pop, avant-garde folk, English Hymnal, and electronic experimentation. Imagine a world, if you would, where all the kids bought Syd Barrett’s ‘The Madcap Laughs’ instead of ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ and wanted to be like the quirksome Floydian frontman rather than the Bermondsey Odd-bod.

Reece Prain and Mariam Benjemaa from Diploid

Diploid’s “Is God Up There?” is a full bellowed Edvard Munch style scream at a world which, in 2016, rapidly seems to be going down the toilet. Stuart Benjamin caught up with Reece and Mariam from the band for a brief Q&A about mass murder, serial killers, death, and Prince.

Diploid – “Is God Up There?”

Bold and challenging, the punishing grind of the record is split into two parts both of which crunch down on your body as effectively as the heavy broken-glass encrusted boots of a team of angry riot-police trying to destroy a wasp nest.

Maria Chiara Argirò – The Fall Dance

The Fall Dance has real cross-over appeal, don’t think of it as a just a jazz record, but think of it as a great record. The playing is just superb, it’s a wondrous thing to hear. A totally sublime experience.

Hashshashin – nihsahshsaH

Above all else this album is great fun, from the thunderous psychedelic explosions of ‘The Ascetic’ and ‘Immolation’, through to the laconic slow pulse of ‘Disintegration’ there’s never a dull moment or anything that feels remotely like filler. If you have any feeling for psych at all, you’ll lap up the whole damn lot of it. I loved it.

Resounding Echoes 2016 – Doom & Sludge Metal

“Sludge! Sludge! Glorious Sludge! Nothing quite like it for Barnaby Rudge!” So wrote Charles Dickens and what he didn’t know about Sunn O))), well, it wasn’t worth knowing in all honesty. Dickens would have loved many of the Doom/Sludge albums that hav …

Cosmonauts – A-OK!

An effortless, authentic West Coast psychedelic fuzzy-rock sense which Cosmonaut inhabit totally across the ten tracks on this long-player, check out ‘Discophilia’ if you need further convincing. Anyway, I’m convinced and I’m buying.

Kurushimi – Shōtotsu

All the tracks revel in their ability to deliver shock-and-awe music like nothing else. It’s music which simply cannot be pigeon-holed. Brilliant. – By Stuart Benjamin

Wartime Sweethearts – So Long Sparta

This is pop as it should be (but rarely is), multi-layered music and obscure lyrics that draw from modern life or classical history/literature and driven heavily by piano/keyboards and lively percussion. – By Stuart Benjamin

LITE / Mouse on the Keys – Split EP

Before you can say “Crikey Granny, you’ve really got to check out these two Japanalicious bands!”, the whole thing is over. More please – ‘cos it’s terrific. By Stuart Benjamin

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

There can be no doubt that this record, and the accompanying film, One More Time With Feeling, were very difficult things to make and yet it seems totally necessary that they exist. He could, very easily – and I wouldn’t have blamed him for a second – have decided not to do anything at all. But that might have been true paralysis of feeling perhaps, and counter to the great creative spark that burns so brightly in this artist who writes so engagingly about all of human experience. By Stuart Benjamin

Tjaere + Fjer – Voliere

Grown up electronic music for a thinking audience, at times drawing on influences such as Another Green World period Eno, or late Virgin period Tangerine Dream, and Madsen is a clever enough guy to tip his hat to his predecessors without being overpowered by them. By Stuart Benjamin

my-Ra Superstar – You Boys and Your Magick Juju

You Boys and Your Magick Juju is something of a positive evolution for my-Ra Superstar, and I think it’s only a matter of time before they give us something totally damn hot. Ones to watch. Although, to be fair, the Illuminati already are… By Stuart Benjamin

Michael Snoxall – “Spooks.”

It’s hard to write a critique of what is – in a lot of ways – a deeply personal record. I listened to it all summer as an antidote to some of the more epic, bombastic, music that usually soundtracks the season and I don’t regret one second of what I heard. – By Stuart Benjamin

The Dowling Poole – One Hyde Park

In summary, 2016 has been a really shitty year for all kinds of reasons, ‘One Hyde Park’ gives you twelve perfectly presented pop packages that will make you feel better. – By Stuart Benjamin

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