Ben Rath – Black Heart Music.

It is a little hard to review Eilean Rec releases. Such is the demand for the music they put out and the limited edition nature (this particular release was limited to 130 copies) that they regularly sell out in pre-order. You may find them at Stashed Goods or Experimedia, but on the whole the physical editions are long gone.

“Ben Rath is an amateur musician currently based in Manchester, UK. He makes experimental, ambient music using original recordings of guitar, keyboard and piano, as well as samples and field recordings. He has been recording and releasing music through a variety of labels since 2014 and has also released a short EP of improvised acoustic guitar tracks under the name Slow Heart Music in 2017”.
Ben Rath has been building up a catalog via a series of great labels such as Triple Moon, Cathedral Transmissions, Unknown Tone and now Eilean Rec.

His “Black Heart Music” album contains ten tracks of differing material such as the ghostly and noisy opener “I see you demon” with its icy electronics, howling wind like drones and slightly ominous electronics that are joined by an organ like drones, field recordings and what sounds like a guitar quartet to the scratchy field recordings, drones and almost classical guitar of “Hidden Contract” which has a drone meets acoustic post rock meets orchestral drone feel to it.

“Devotion” takes the listener on a loop based psychedelic electronic drone journey while the follow-up “Reasonable Doubt” sees acoustic guitar return to the fore with a hypnotic disjointed loop feel and a whistling drone gradually building to hold a similar degree of attention in the track, complimenting the guitar playing.

“Know thy Shadow” is a pure drone piece with an orchestral choral feel to it which makes it quite haunting. There is a shuffling feel before darker pulsing elements take over with flashes of electronics which altogether give a wide-screen feel to the sound. “Boiling Point” has pulsing static covered electronics that have a drill like quality with orchestral probes which sound like a bed of church organs. As the title suggests, the music builds up with a fractured cut up selection of electronics and sound to build a frantic base for the organs to sit upon. As the track finishes up the elements start to drop out with a static off-kilter buzz taking the piece to silence.

“Winter Blues” has looped samples and submerged drones with distortion. Such is the distance felt in the recording, the drones feel buried underneath the samples and it gives a claustrophobic feel to the track.

“The Devil in Disguise” opens with slightly shimmering drones that are layered and occupy different levels on the sound palate. There is no need for urgency, but they are not stationery in any way. The build slowly and swirl around. Field recordings of an unknown nature scatter about and a glacial drone joins the fray as these two elements become dominant before a heavier drone that slowly varies in pitch takes over.

“Hesitation” looped cut up drone elements with a slight chugging feel are joined by a spindly guitar style drone and a fog horn sounding one. A melodic element takes its place and initially it is buried in the mix, but starts taking prominence in piece.

“Visit to the other side” starts with a looped distortion drone that throbs while a granular and a bowed like haunting element joins in. The haunting element has a ghostly sing-song feel to it with an orchestral like touch. The medic ebbs sad flows, but probably needs another element to complete it.

With “Black Heart Music” Rath shows he can create wide-screen music with impressive elements and the like of “Reasonable Doubt” show he is heading in the right direction. I look forward to seeing where he can next take his music.

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