I highly suggest clicking the video below before reading.
Sometimes a musician, or a band, create an album on purpose. Sometimes they just make music and when they have collected the right amount of songs, they decide to make an album from them. Sometimes you make videos on Youtube, and a collection of your latest songs become an album.
The artist is Ben Levin and the album is “Rem-Ram”
For those of you who don’t know mister Levin, he’s a youtuber making videos about teaching music, some particular arrangements, and creative techniques, for what I know he’s also a winner of a Steve Vai contest, and this says so much about his technical skills on guitar. He’s also a member of Ben Levin Group and Bent Knee.
I began to follow his activity some months ago, after having watched him for the first time in a video by Adam Neely. What hits me more is his extremely open-minded creativity, using every kind of strange idea to make weird but beautiful songs. What makes his video activity really interesting is the combination of particular visuals made by him to get the best from the content.
One month ago, he released a non-teaching video, a song called “Missing No.” Usually, the average video is a little track followed by an explanation of the track itself. This time was just music and visuals, and the song was more interesting than the usual, at least it seemed to me. A mix of things, as various as weird as cohesive at the same time. Then followed another song, and another one, and another one, until the sixth one that was pretty clear to be the last.
I commented the video writing to make it an album, Ben asked me “how do you envision this working as an album?”, and I replied that I have seen the latest videos just like fragments of a dream, and after some days he replied “Here you go!” and he linked me the video with the full album: “REM RAM”.
Let’s dive in.
Press Start has a creepy as hell video, minimal humanoid figures with a black body and white eyes, sharing a seascape place that reflects a black sky. A lonely guy watches the sky looking for a mutant creature that seems to be the reflection of a future self, while he is being watched by other creepy figures through a sort of flame. We are the lonely guy who imagines the realization of his future aspirations while he is constantly judged by the others, struggling to find its place into the flame (maybe a metaphor for the efforts to reach the goal?).
Singularity Death Cult begins with people screaming at the show of death. Like a sort of new pornography, we exorcize our frustration watching death going live everywhere, It reminds me of the concept of a famous Tool song, Vicarious. The soundscape is pretty ironic because it has a childish way to bring the theme, like a sort of perpetual carillon that’s pretty more innocent than the death theme.
Missing No. The reference to the popular bug-born pokemon is not casual. The song begins with a great example of chordcloud production and creepy distorted spoken-word, like crazed bits of harmonic information creating a pattern (like the mythical bug-pokemon does), followed by a techno straight rhythm and another spoken word. A solo singing part by Ben himself represents the most intimate moment, it’s not quite clear which words he is moaning.
Microscope projects us in a Matrix World full of strange and colorful homunculi, gliding through the dark with glitchy beats, and then fonding themselves into a rainbow of exploding trails, the music slows down and becomes meditative, releasing a minimal version of the minions (have they reached the illumination together, in a sort of ritual communion?)
Another delicate moment of lyricism is at the beginning of Home Shining Fish, saying “I returned home”. We reach the zen, the nirvana, a dimensional new place that we can call home, synths and flutes bringing us joy and relief at mid-tempo beats.
But it’s not the end, but now we have to recollect in tranquility what we have experienced. In Clearing The Board, A humanoid being with a screen instead of the head shows the new-reached state of conscience, a red cloud full of unknown language tries to demystify in chaos, but a flying whale shows the way to get out and reach a new dimension of existence (quoting the Gojira’s masterpiece?).
And then all of a sudden we find a plain white surface, all the characters met by us, thrown all around. We systematically clear the surface from their obstruction. Then, we throw ourselves into the abyss and…another short crescendo before the end…and we meet the creator of the album itself, telling us “That’s all for now!”
Man, I think that if that’s all for now, I fear what may come next. I still have shivers after having experienced the dream. I could pass days in writing what this “album” left me in terms of weirdness and emotional nature. And the visuals? Oh, the visuals. Nobody would say it has been created by one man with just a few tools…but much, much imagination. When your imagination is strong, you can do whatever you want: this is the evidence.
This work is sick, experimental, but never losing the sight of the path to follow. I followed it, letting it guide me through.
What will you do?
Written for you by Music Pills
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