Gergedan Müzik

Benjamin Lew

Alone or with Tuxedomoon's Steven Brown, Belgian electronic artist Benjamin Lew has been creating inspired, hypnotic and instantly recognizable musical landscapes over the course of four albums. An invitation to dream and to travel.

Benjamin Lew by Anaïs Prosaic

At the crossroads between visual arts and poetry, between dark European romanticism and bouncing minimal music, electronic treatments in the spirit of Jon Hassell's Fourth World music, or ambient à la Brian Eno, sounds which seemed to have escaped from jazz or from the East... superlatives were gushing from the pens of reviewers to describe the seduction exerted by these instrumental pieces with as-yet-unheard atmospheres, hypnotical and melancolic soundscapes full of semi-organic, semi-robotic silky palpitations... Several satellites of the Crammed planet also in Benjamin Lew's orbit: Steven Brown, Peter Principle and Blaine Reininger (who brought some of the misty soul of Tuxedomoon, the San Francisco art-rock band living in Brussels at the time), Vini Reilly (the phantom guitarist also known as Durutti Column), and sonic alchemists Marc Hollander and Gilles Martin.

Originally a press and radio journalist, A.P. is a director of music documentaries for television (Arte, Canal+, Mezzo).

Impressions of Benjamin Lew

An enlightened amateur -in the noble and almost Renaissance-like sense of the word- Benjamin Lew dabbles with equal grace in photography, writing, visual arts ... he worked part-time as a cocktail mixer in a tropical bar which was one of the favourite watering holes of Brussels' thriving artistic community of the early '80s. Tuxedomoon had just moved to Brussels, and Steven Brown was among the many musicians, designers & artists who patronized the bar. Benjamin had a secret passion: he wasn't a musician, but had acquired a small analog synthesizer, with which he had started creating these strange mysterious little pieces. Benjamin played them to Steven and asked him if he'd agree to record with him. Steven was taken with them and accepted. Benjamin and Steven's bar-room conversation led to a fully-fledged album, largely created in the studio by both protagonists with the help of Gilles Martin and myself in the spring of '82, and entitled Douzième Journée (a reference to anthropologist Marcel Griaule and his famous study of the Dogon people of Mali). Benjamin had a unique talent for creating evocative and poetic atmospheres. Listening to his albums (he went on to record three more with Crammed) is like embarking on a dream journey to the Sahara or the Far East. You'd think that some of the pieces feature non-European musicians or samples but: no... this is just Benjamin's imagination, his old synth and his friends... 

From the Marc Hollander interview included in the Crammed Global Soundclash boxed set

Benjamin Lew in the press

"All this band is missing is Yma Sumac on lead vocals. You might say that this record is an acquired taste. Like raw sea urchin, methadone or Colt 45. No, this is a pure and immediate taste because it's beautiful. A brilliant achievement, a great record." (Glenn O'Brien in Interview Magazine, USA, '83)

"An album of mesmerising strangeness, an exotic, surreal trip through the musics and airwaves of Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Elusive and fascinating" (NME, UK, '83)

"Subtle, almost tribal feeling... a merging of classical and folk roots... unlike in Eno's music there's just enough here to hold the attention...This is strong stuff, music to sit up and listen to... Brown and Lew are like directors of some documentary on foreign life forms: playing with audio imagery they paint a vibrant picture" (Sounds, UK, '83)

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