The music on On Water rejects the notion that music must make a narrative statement, and instead embraces the idea of music as an organized sonic experience. These pieces are not portraits; they are rather landscapes or still-lifes. These subtle, minimal treatments are reminiscent of Brian Eno’s ‘Music for Airports‘ and Eno and Jon Hassell’s ‘Fourth World‘ music. Ben Cox’s multi-instrumental talents shine through in this shimmering, floating body of work.
On WaterBen Cox
On Water’ by Ben Cox is a lovely recording filled with fluid drones and vivid imagery.
Sparse and darkly beautiful in its use of sound, Cox has created a work that envelopes the listener in a liquid embrace. A wonderful example of the expressiveness of dark ambience, and a fine example of the emotionality of drones.
‘Anhinga’ opens the disc with a beautiful blend of simple guitar and piano notes played overtop a droning background. ‘Merganser’ follows, a dark ambient drone coupled with distorted guitar and minimal vocals weaving throughout to create a stunning piece.
‘Willet’ returns the disc to brighter territories, a synthesis of piano and field recordings matched with high bell tones. There's a sense of hope and renewal to this track, discovery and possibility despite the threat of oncoming rain. And really, who can't use a little more hope? Track four, ‘Gannet’, is a spiralling piece that gives a sense of movement and fluidity around a centre or fixed point, growing as time passes, gaining clarity and form as the piece progresses. Very powerful and very beautiful. The fifth piece on the disc, ‘Grebe’, continues along the brighter path of ambience, with small arpegios and bright flourishes interspersed throughout a steady drone. ‘Plover’ follows, a series of pads mingling and entwining with an ebbing and flowing pulse. Trumpet swells throughout adding an organic quality to the track, the feeling of a living organism. ‘Pray for Rain’ closes the disc, light hand percussion playing throughout the piece overtop slight synth patterns.
A stirring, fluid track to close the disc. Wonderful.
Without doubt, ‘On Water’ is an impressive collection of drone-based work, a series of pieces that cover a wide range of emotions and environments. Highly recommended for the obvious fans of drones and dark ambience, and for those who enjoy the creation of new and distinct environments. Beautiful work.- Rik, Ping Things
According to the press-information, ambient composer Ben Cox has been a musician for twenty-five years and a recording engineer for fifteen years. He’s also on of the founders of the Lotuspike label, which has released his debut cd ‘On Water’.
The music is a blend of acoustic and electronic instruments, one of slow movement, minimal soundscape atmospheres and subtle sound treatments. The intimate opening track ‘Anhinga’ was previously available through Dark Duck’s Drone Download project.
‘Merganser’ seems to be music for a still-life painting, which slightly meanders along trance/Eastern textures. ‘Willet’ is a nice excursion with it’s repetitive piano, roaring thunder and overall pastoral impact.
‘Gannet’ features some drone-sitar textures with again some slight Asian flavours and signal sounds. It isn’t that dark as Matthias Grassow, but stays a bit too monotonous.
‘Grebe’ offers a lighter sound of soundscapes over railway sounds, before seeping water sounds, dronescapes and a treated trumpet enter stage on ‘Plover’. ‘Pray for Rain’ concludes the album with tribal percussion, sampled sequencer and textures.
Overall, ‘On Water’ is a nice & well produced release which might please those who love an Eno kindred ambient music style.- Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion