Boomkat Product Review:
‘Love’ is the quietly stunning debut album by John Bence, following his thrilling vocal works for Yves Tumor’s label with a penetratingly expressive solo piano suite for his new home, Thrill Jockey. RIYL Terre Thaemlitz, Morton Feldman, Sun Ra
After making a shocking entrance with the ‘Kill’ 12” in 2018, all bets were on Bristol-based composer John Bence turning in a singular debut album, and expectations have been met, flipped, smashed with this low key extraordinary album of instrumental works. Clearly steeped in the classical world, but unstuck by convention, Bence proves an uncanny knack for nailing fleeting, ephemeral emotions in ‘Love’ with 10 succinct works that speak at the speed of thought; diffracting the pace and mood from rushing flurries of arpeggios to ponderous, Feldman-esque downturns with a striking profundity and timelessness that makes it difficult to even accurately place where or when it was made, if we weren’t told as much.
Drawing upon personal struggles with alcoholism and addiction, Bence deftly transmutes his life’s experience into an achingly sombre but ultimately life-affirming set of arrangements, each performed with such natural effortlessness and directness that it’s almost unsettling to be placed so deep in someone else’s thoughts, and especially so when held against the cold hard light of clarity that comes with sobriety. Trust one needs only a passing interest in piano music to become snagged by Bence’s train of thought, so make sure to act on instincts if the samples appeal, and you’ll be rewarded with a richly quizzical, ephemerally existential articulation for these self-reflective times and far beyond. Unmissable stuff.