Boomkat Product Review:
Advanced computer music, chronicling Ben Vida’s titular installation piece and the start of a new long-form project entitled Reducing the Tempo to Zero. RIYL Florian Hecker, Aphex Twin, Keith Fullerton Whitman
Archetypal sonic explorer Ben Vida follows up standout albums for PAN and Jefre-Cantu Ledesma's Root Strata label with a spellbinding window into his latest work with a unique palette of electronic tones and structures for his second full-length with Shelter Press.
Coming up to nearly ten years since his serenely melodic, pop-wise Bird Show outings on Kranky, the two pieces of Damaged Particulates and Reducing the Tempo to Zero are testament to Vida’s endlessly searching spirit, connecting his earliest, drone-based work with Town and Country in the late ‘90s, and the the conceptually related text-to-score techniques used in Slipping Control (2014), via the poetic inquisitions of Esstends-Esstends-Esstends for PAN and his current practice.
Following widespread installations of Damaged Particulates - an ongoing study for synthesiser commissioned by Unsound Festival and subsequently shown in New York, Krakow, Berlin, Bologna and Montreal - over the past four years, this final iteration is a playfully discomfiting, pervasive demo of psychoacoustic precision and otherworldly electronics.
Consumed on headphones (recommended), it’s an experience akin to being valeted by a thorough swarm of cartoonish, bird-like nanobots, who proceed to descale and spruce up your bonce whilst chattering and singing in non-verbal chronics like some frenzied, hyperactive workforce. There’s no doubt he’s having a laugh with some of these sounds, but we’ve always found that Vida’s best work, and much of the best electronic composition in general for that matter, exists in the fine space between humour and rigorous seriousness.
That said, the B-side is a far more sober introduction to his latest, ongoing concern. Revealing the first dispatch from a far longer work totalling five hours, Reducing the Tempo to Zero grows with an inorganic sentience feeling out space between the tangiest timbres of AFX’s Selected Ambient Works and a glacial microtonal practice that sounds like a Rashad Becker piece smeared into a hazy thizz, before descending into Eliane Radigue-like microtonal fluctuation, and we don’t use that comparison lightly.