Salvaging The Past

Dean De Benedictis

Salvaging The Past


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About Salvaging The Past


1   The Tech Atonement Of Bilagana

2   Chasm Enchanted

3   Occur

4   Grid Holy 4

5   Where Is The Northern Sorrow?

6   Sweltering Gazes of Sonora

7   Then Bled A Tear

8   Death For Music

9   Memories Echo Far Ablaze In The Valleys

10   Same Drone, Different Story

Dean De Benedictis, has envisioned a vital work of instrumental compositions, exploring the art of electronic music with a refreshing integrity. Blending traditional electronic tones and structures with acoustic elements, he has sculpted an album that is raw and direct. In essence, he has captured a heart of true electronic music, while suggesting more thought-provoking themes.

De Benedictis realizes this vision through various electronic tonalities, samples, and acoustic instruments such as mayahachi flute, bamboo flutes, cello, piano, voice, guitars, hand drums, and percussion – applying all, with the passion and inspiration of the masters before him.

Salvaging the Past is not only an homage to the electronic music of the past, but expands the vocabulary of the present.

To the listener:
Our physical realm is comprised of drastically separate entities mix-matching and ambiguously aligning into one harmonious collage. Such is the underlying principal behind ‘Salvaging The Past. ‘ It is not the first time I’ve based a project on this philosophy. So much of my unreleased work had been inspired by this principle, and specifically by a variety of traditional ambient music genres, that eventually I felt compelled to tie this particular work together… how could I not? With some songs containing an intense electronic base and others a pure acoustic base, creating the mood for “Salvaging The Past” was tricky, but I do feel that we brought the music together as best as possible. As always, it is all from the same soul.

– Dean De Benedictis


The title of this disc is most apropos for two reasons. First, it is a collection of tracks De Benedictus has recorded over the years, from 1992 through 2005. Second, it blends acoustic sounds with electronics. Starting with ‘The Tech Atonement of Bilagana,’ this melding of seemingly disparate styles works exceptionally well, as wood flutes combine with a variety of synth sounds. Another perfect hybrid of future and salvaged past is ‘Sweltering Gazes of Sonora,’ with a bubbly sequence, light synth touches, and soft tribal rhythms. ‘Chasm Enchanted’ has a theatrical touch, with dark synth pads and mournful cello. Imagine a cross between Klaus Schulze’s Audentity and Peter Gabriel’s Passion and you’re in the neighborhood. ‘Occur’ stays in dark realms, adding deep pounding tribal beats. Very organic as synth-based music goes, it reminds me some of Patrick O’Hearn in that regard. ‘Grid Holy 4’ adds reverence courtesy of a distant choir, contrasted with a bubbly little sequence dancing about in the forefront. An older British gentleman gives a brief soliloquy in the middle that I can’t quite make out, but nevertheless it enhances the mood effectively. Despite the time span of the recordings, the album flows quite seamlessly from one track to the next. Female wordless vocals beautifully enhance ‘Where Is The Northern Sorrow?’ De Benedictus has a sure hand throughout, perhaps evidenced most clearly on the delicate ‘Then Bled A Tear,’ full of emotion, artistry and nuance. The disc closes with ‘Same Drone, Different Story,’ a 16-minute journey that sounds more like 3 or 4 fully developed musical ideas that just happen to flow together as one. Salvaging The Past gets an enthusiastic thumbs up.

- Phil Derby, Electroambient Space

De Benedictis is better known to the world-at-large as Surface 10, under which he has released many a fine recording, most recently on Ian Boddy’s stalwart DiN label. Operating under his christian name, his music is no less fascinating. In fact, the differences between Salvaging the Past and S10 material are negligible—De Benedictis’ talent runs rampant, regardless. Treading less abstract waters than S10, a bit more attention paid to the melodic capabilities of his tools separates the personas somewhat; still. this man got’s some synths and he knows how to use them. The outcome ultimately belies this recording’s title, De Benedictis, like some savior of electronica, on a grand mission to rescue lonesome studio wizards from their self-imposed categorical purgatory. Thus the sequencer dance underpinning ‘Grid Holy 4’ exeunts from machineries of joy, alive with carpet crawler shimmers and sonic aurora boreali, buoyant and lustrous. ‘Sweltering Gazes of Sonora’ bounces along on giddy waves of zero-g, Tangerine Dream music for those who don’t like Tangerine Dream music. It’s all in the fingers, y’see, and by any measure, De Benedictis has the agility of a ballet dancer; adroit, light on his ‘feet,’ deft of digit and lobe. Ideas don’t hurt, either—and this fella’s got ‘em in spades.

- Darren Bergstein, e/i Magazine, installment 7

STYLE Rhythmic instrumental electronica blending synthetic and acoustic sounds to produce an exotic ambient edge. This is a varied album with beats and rhythmic passages, flutes, cello, voices, guitars and plenty of dense, bright atmospheres and sequences. Salvaging The Past has a powerful sound for environmental music, beautifully melodic and poignant at times - in places with beats clear and solid, although too ambient in nature to be beat-driven music. Dean De Benedictis has certainly produced a staggeringly professional sound, musically very mature and moving. The mix is generally lush and rich, the odd voice swimming in the mix, delicate piano chords in places, keening cello - but primarily delivering all manner of synth sounds - choral effects, crystal arpeggios, smooth drones, aural cloudscapes. Where Is The Northern Sorrow brings a female voice to the fore - heavenly, ethereal and warm - courtesy of Cathryn Deering.

Dramatic and expansive through light and serene - from deep piano stabs with a Middle-Eastern slant to clay drums and reverberating flutes - from floational weightlessness to percussive restfulness - from electronic sound synthesis to organic acoustic performance - this is an album of artful contrasts. Nevertheless, everything ties up effectively into a coherent whole. Colourful patches twinkle and bubble, ambient atmospheres drifting like oil on water - little is still for long. A compelling listen.

The artwork for Salvaging The Past is sharp and atmospheric - water and cloud dominating the series of landscapes spread across the package. A dead tree, black against storm clouds fill the rear jewel-case panel alongside track titles and times. Grey water floods the inner booklet, a widening ripple pattern of elongated ovals spread out before half-submerged rocks - here we have notes to the listener explaining the project, credits, thanks and a list of inspirational artists.

Salvaging The Past is released by Spotted Peccary Records as the latest of Dean De Benedictis' offerings - having produced previous compositions in a variety of styles including IDM, tribal ambient and space music. Here he employs a variety of electronic tonalities, samples, and acoustic instruments such as mayahachi flute, bamboo flutes, cello, piano, voice, guitars, hand drums, and percussion. Promotional notes explain - ‘Our physical realm is comprised of drastically separate entities mix-matching and ambiguously aligning into one harmonious collage. Such is the underlying principal behind ‘Salvaging The Past.’ The album brings together pieces written between the years 1992 and 2005.

This CD will appeal to electronic fans at the ambient end of the spectrum - but contains sufficient melodic/harmonic content to appeal to electronic fans that like to have a clear tune to hold on to, an occasional beat to carry the mix and plenty of variety to hold the attention.

- Morpheus Music

The musical work of Dean DeBenedictis is one of continued engagement. With clear phrasing, pacing and feeling his realizations are infused with both thought and spirit. Salvaging the Past (75'06’) is less a collection of songs and more a reflection of all things telluric. De Benedictis fills each of the ten tracks with a distinctly different ambiance. Densely layered scenes give way to more expansive compositions. Spacious washes of sound create a harmonic backdrop suggesting barren desert and wide-open possibilities. This album provides many access points by including familiar sounds like cello, voice, flute, acoustic guitar and percussion and avoids the abrasiveness of overt aural experimentation. But De Benedictis is foremost an electronic musician and bases the music on Salvaging the Past around a captivating mix of synthesized harmonies, echoing keyboard melodies and multiple lines of entangled sequencer tone patterns. The album's arrangement is tight and expresses a relentlessly solemn inner monologue. With delicate interludes on one track and dizzying repeated riffs the next, Salvaging the Past is a tapestry of insistent rhythms and shimmering timbres. This album possesses a higher complexity than basic ambient, greater emotional integrity than new age and a softer approachability than space music.

- Chuck van Zyl, STAR'S END

Salvaging the past’ consists of ten impressive compositions, whose stylistic range fluctuates between deep Ambient and symphonic Space Music. This work has a pleasant freshness, thanks to the imaginative melodies and atmospheres. The music is mostly static, even though there also are pieces and passages with a slow rhythm. In the slow passages, the structure is fluid, not being limited to a few fixed chords. In a few words, a work that will enthusiasm the aficionados to ambient and meditative electronic music in general.

- Edgar Kolger, Amazing Sounds

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