Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : benge / twenty systems

Produced with an appropriately light touch, Twenty Systems by Benge(Ben Edwards) traces the bleeping line in the development of synthesizer technology from anaologue to digital, from modular to digital presets. With the recent reapprisal of hardware as a sonic strategy for producing complex musical forms from such figures as Keith Fullerton Whitman and Carlos Giffoni to name two, Twenty Systems adds to this re-thinking beautifully. As an investigation of the idiosyncratic characteristics of each of these systems, Benge wisely limits his gaze, allowing each synth the luxury of showing off its best sonic attribute in isolation. The 1972 Serge Modular is particularly evocative producing off-kilter sonic detrius, complex perfect imperfection, and smeared timbral and rhythmic shivers the result of complex patching and gating. The photography is beautiful. The text is informative, and rich in detail, placing each system in historical context. Benge is obviously in love with this technology trusting each system to speak for itself. If we listen we can hear the past's machine utterings that point emphatically, not to the dusty corners of museums, but to a future imbued with extraordinary potential.

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