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Saturday, 10 September 2016
BEN REED – STATION MASTERS (Gare Du Nord Records LP+CD, D/L).
Fresh from bass duties on the recent Frank Ocean LP, London based multi-instrumentalist Ben Reed has a record of his own due for release. Following two previous self-released records, Ben is now part of the Gare Du Nord Records family and with a roll call of gently psychedelic retro popsters that includes Papernut Cambridge and Picturebox his new album is a perfect fit for the label. Station Masters, Ben’s first non-instrumental album, is part whimsical, introspective, very English singer/songwritery with a late 60s/early 70s influence which blends together Folk, Jazz and Psychedelic Pop………. it resonates with a really mellow 60s swinging bachelor pad vibe that evokes The Free Design, Zdenek Liska, The Left Banke, Fifth Dimension and Oz Mutantes………combined with the pastoral, bucolic air of the Canterbury Scene and the post psychedelic era of Kevin Ayres and Robert Wyatt, and more in keeping with the earlier albums, part quirky early 70s Prog like Virgin used to sign, such as bands like Henry Cow, Slapp Happy and Hatfield & The North, with elements of Soft Machine, Stackridge and Caravan added to mix.
Featuring involvement from, amongst others, Laura Groves, Bullion and Ross Stanley, Station Masters is a smart and engaging record that you can image 6 Music listeners and Uncut readers going mad over, however there is more than enough Psych Pop strangeness and retro Prog Rock inventiveness that will captivate lovers of English psychedelic quirk-outs. The album’s opener and title track, a Soft Machine-esque free Jazz storm in the mould of the improvisational feel of Third, ‘Das Zeichen der Spinne’, ‘Allgones’ and ‘Dragging The Lake’ are all solo Ben Reed compositions from a Prog/Jazz twilight zone like the first couple of albums, however the new record has more of a collaborative feel with many of the songs being joint compositions or covers and includes a version of Portuguese poet Manuel de Freitas’ ‘Errata’ set to pastoral guitars and summery Oz Mutantes vocals. Station Masters is a compelling record and its peculiar mix of influences give it an unexpected timeless quality………it does not hide its influences but the strange and beautiful mix of styles enhance the record, not tying it down to any particular place in time and space. A delightfully eccentric record and a fantastic addition to the list of weird and wonderful records that Gare Du Nord have released this year.
Due for release on October 7th, Station Masters is available on vinyl (which also comes with a CD of the album inside) or as a digital download. Available to pre-order now from Ben Reed’s Bandcamp page here https://benreed3.bandcamp.com/releases.