Alpha Pup Records (Brainfeeder), 2013
Often, when an album arrives pre-labelled with the epithet “outsider music”, one has to brace oneself for what might be an incoherent and self-indulgent cacophony. Mercifully, this is not the case with this collection of tracks tracing the musical evolution of Miguel Baptista Benedict. Summarizing and collating the work of Benedict between 2008 and 2012, Super(b)-Child-Ran is a compilation gleaned from some twenty-five albums produced during that period.
Citing the cut-up technique of Brion Gysin as an inspiration for his music, Benedict is an artist of maturity and depth, capable of marshaling and coaxing the colliding elements of field and digital recordings into music of subtle beauty and intriguing complexity.
Made during what he describes as a “corner stone period” of his life, he clearly has a strong catalogue of work to draw on for this debut release on Alpha Pup Records. Utilizing a modest studio set up, that consists of walkie talkies, old keyboards, guitars and loop pedals, he conjures forth a music that is intuitive and experimental, retaining the grit that is essential for any truly extemporized work, whilst avoiding the pitfall of overly long or unlistenable tracks.
For me, what is wonderful about this collection is its ability to evoke thoughts, feelings, and atmospheres that are redolent of early 21st Century personal anxiety, whilst also connecting to some darker, universal, primeval core. In describing his music, Benedict uses words like “stripped down” and “destroyed”, particularly with reference to his titles – and, although his claim of phonetic reductionism falls a little short when considering the tracklisting, in terms of his music, this description is apt. That said, this album of “raw, abstract sound poetry” is surprisingly beautiful, with moments of delightful melody rising to the surface with a rewarding and simple charm.
The discordant cascade of recorders on the track “Subordinate CEO”, with its folding, echoed layers consuming the surprisingly mainstream whispered vocals, or the distorted melodies and anvil driven rhythm of “Purge” are, along with the beautiful opening piano piece “Phemy”, perhaps the most accessible tracks. Alongside these there are moments of awkwardness and dissonance, as in the neurotic, breathless and hypnotic panic of the track “Anxious/Upset”, or the lo-fi, fudged guitar of “Akew”.
This is an album of brilliance and discovery, that manages to pull together music from a range of different albums, recorded over a period of four years, without sounding disjointed or contrived. I am intrigued to know what the donor albums sound like, and want to hear how each track sits in its original setting, but that doesn’t spoil the impact of this excellent album. I am also interested to know what he will do next. As an introduction to the world of Miguel Baptista Benedict this is perfect. I want to hear more.