Monday 29 February 2016


'Σalad Days' is a four month-old song that popped up as recommended on SoundCloud when I was writing about something else that is more than a week old and I could not just sit here and hear the sumptuous sounds of it without putting some words onto the internet, sending something out into the nethersphere. It is a track by someone called Benjha who may or may not be based in Texas. I've now been just sitting here with the song on repeat going around and around and around and taking me with it to wherever it may be going, to space, through walls, floating just a few feet above the ground and wafting home like a tired ghost through commuter streets and suburban spaces. I'm there, I'm fully there.

There is a sense of the spooky in this track but it's nothing to get scared about because the track is more delicious than mere atmosphere conjuring; it's full of textures and tastes that are undeniable and that swirl into your brain like weed smoke and there's nothing you can do except shrug and get the fuck high with it running through your nerves and thoughts like a lazy lust. What does Benjha do that's so nice?

This musicmaker carves out a huge wonky beat, jingling and crunching with cascades of percussion, crackling with the familiar smell of vinyl and off-beat hip-hop tint to it, rough and heavy guitar sounds decorating a thunderous beginning, where also synth chords wash into the mix, a soft cosmic cavalcade, then rich cymbals begin to ding ding ding ding... a woodblock click that reverbs so far into the swirling decorative void of the song... a slow groovesome bass that evolves into a bending foundation of blooping bass made the whole track reminiscent of a much more chilled version of this battle music from Earthbound.

A piercing synth lead lances up and soars, melting like a bleeding rainy sunset sky and all streetlights and strangers' eyes downcast as you make your way places. The synth bulges and buzzes abrasive and thick sometimes, with other ornamentations coming from crashing cymbals and clapping hands, the beat thickets with noises, it is alive with sonic observations, a stream of sound that is a microcosm in itself. And then it ends in a slow unnerving smog, like the realisation of a ghost that there is no living left but only ghostly journeys.

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I heard this playing during a wander around on a blue sky day with the sun shining in Harajuku outside Beams Records and I was drawn into the shop and I stood there drinking up the music not really looking at any of the CDs just kind of pretend-browsing. To hear it outside a siren song with its bells and chimes blown about by the early afternoon breeze and to be drenched in its subby sound inside the shop... it's a tasty treat for the ears, a cyclical journey of a track, walking a circuit trail through a sun-dappled grove.

It is 'Oriental Suite' and it is by Anchorsong (named after Björk's 'The Anchor Song'? maybe), a musicmaker whose real name is Masaaki Yoshida, a Tokyo person now living in London. Reading up about it now, Beams Records were playing his music because they had an advance sale of the album Ceremonial, and I happened to be there a day before the album's release party (28/1), so that's that.

The track is built on a shaker-sprinkled shuffling of a beat, in a slowed-down-garage-flavoured rhythm but wooden and organic, like it is made of felled logs and fistfuls of earth and tangled wires of ivy – you also get this feeling with the clop-clopping marimba sounds hollow and rustic later on in the song. Samples drop in and out of the track, vocal snippets of cut-up conversation and longer drawn-out singing voices like chanting.

It begins thin and almost minimalist, mystical reverbing chimes giving you a hint of what lies ahead, it ending up a bustling whirl of delicious percussion and vocal samples, that shaking beat with hi-hats zinging to help the frenzy of sounds along, underpinned with rumbling undulating sub-bass that makes the shuffling groove robust and... so like moss-covered walls constant under the wash of pines and murmur of people and animals; do you not feel teleported elsewhere?

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