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Ben Bondy - Camo Music Album Reviews

Ben Bondy - Camo Music Album Reviews
The Brooklyn producer’s heavily abstracted ambient music offers a choice between deep listening or blissful distraction. It’s equally gratifying either way.

Ben Bondy is an expert purveyor of diaphanous ambience and he’s never short on wares. In the past two years the Brooklynite released nearly a dozen albums, all of them essential comforts bearing subtle moods and gentle demeanors, dubby pulses and blissed-out reveries. From time to time, he’s gracefully ventured into peripheral territories like downtempo or IDM, and his collaborations have extended his sonic boundaries further: the Blessed Kitty, with Pontiac Streator and Ulla, features vocals, while his stint with producer uon as xphresh includes a celestial breakbeat. Camo outpaces his previous work in effortless fashion, and it’s largely because its seven tracks are so frictionless, showcasing the most self-effacing, unassuming soundscapes of his career.

Opener “Pandøer” sets the bar high: Imagine 1980s Gigi Masin without the rhythmic gridlock or softly anchoring piano melodies. It’s pure drift, with Bondy using reverberating guitars and static to lend an amorphous structure to the haze. It has an uncanny resemblance to deep breathing exercises, and regardless of where you’re at either physically or mentally, it places you in a therapeutic zone. “Pool” lands somewhere between the sparse romanticism of the Durutti Column and the most elemental of Mark McGuire’s nostalgic psychedelia. It’s not reliant on melody, finding contentment in the faintest hint of pop sensibility. This allure of mere suggestion is key. Camo is neither self-important nor excessively inviting; it simply exists.

Many artists and writers have discussed the difference between hearing and listening, and they often pedestalize the latter when doing so, asserting that it’s always and unequivocally the nobler act. That’s understandable; there’s value in learning to listen more closely. But in our desire to be more thoughtful, there’s been unnecessary blowback against passivity, where “unfocused” music listening is equated with the ostensible mindlessness of mood playlists and the “lo-fi beats” phenomenon. Camo shakes up such notions, allowing one to move freely between both registers and finding joy either way. Tracks with field recordings, like “Conté” and “I Thought You’d Look Away,” are impressive in this regard. The former threads the iconic call of the mourning dove through coiling guitar melodies as a periodic reminder of presence. The latter, meshed with the alternating sounds of a tennis rally, is equally poetic. There’s interplay between quotidian noises and the music surrounding them, but even a casual listen still feels like absorbing the splendor of a sunny afternoon.

Camo is compellingly nondescript; it never feels like Bondy’s prescribing an obvious method for digesting his songs. Take “Omni Field,” an unpretentious flurry of ambient detritus, where the undulating sounds of dub techno arrive as vapor. The swells of cracked field recordings and bubbling synths are too shapeless to be all-consuming, but the results offer the unexpected allure of hearing flecks of sound gestate. Bondy’s secret is approaching liminality not as conduit or provocative end point but as something beguilingly uncertain. It’s this recalibration of expectations that makes Camo a marvel—Bondy sells ephemerality as something irresistible.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Ben Bondy - Camo Music Album Reviews Ben Bondy - Camo Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, February 04, 2022 Rating: 5

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