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Benson, Travis: Travis Benson

Hailing from Haverhill, MA, Travis Benson is a composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist looking to ask questions and push at the doors of the accepted norm. This self-titled debut is very much a one-man project, Benson himself offering up some idiosyncratic vocals, intricate synth work, well placed guitars and programmed drums that lay a fine base from which all of those elements can build. Racking up at just over 25 minutes in total, each of the seven offerings on this mini-album dart quickly into view, get their message across and then just as swiftly step back out of the light. Considering that the eclectic fare veers from singer-songwriter expositions through to controlled avantegarde workouts, via some hard hitting rock and melodic prog, there’s no doubting the amount of ground being covered. However, each of the different aspects are handled with an innate understanding of what makes them engaging and entertaining and given time it all clicks into place as one cohesive experience.

On a personal level, Benson’s voice can take a while to adjust to, with a lack of overt expression playing off against a slightly nasally undertone. However, with the lyrics personal and candid - although more often than not cleverly veiled in imagery and idea - it would be difficult to imagine anyone other the person behind these songs singing them. The opening number, “Sun’s Song”, while not necessarily the most obvious example of what’s to follow, does illustrate the manner in which Benson takes you with him on his journeys. A strum of acoustic guitar and plainly produced voice reminding of the sort of quirky little ditties that often punctuate episodes of the ‘legal’ drama The Good Fight, but the jaunty base hides a much deeper undercurrent of instrumental layers that leave you in a different place entirely from what might have been expected.

Things twist further with the Oriental chimes of “Daily Detriment”; a song that alludes to the less than happy-happy nature of the lyrics across this EP as grinding guitars offer yet another flavour in these early exchanges. In some ways, living up to its name, “Aeolus Complex” does add ever more intricate little details to get your head around, gently cascading drums building into a hugely melodic pay-off that has, at times, a vaguely Russian/music box lilt that then allows some excellent keyboard forays to make a mark. The instrumental “Dancing Mania” adds exactly the sort of loosely deranged, but never out of control, detour it names suggests, whereas the more straight ahead melodies of “Sky And Weather” pull things back in, before “Reaping Memes” possibly delivers the most threatening atmosphere in sight.

For such a short release there’s a lot to get your teeth into here and then to subsequently digest. As you do the disdain that Travis Benson seems to have for the every dayness of life combines ever more strongly to his varied musical visions. In places it does feel as though there are maybe an element or two missing that could elevate these crafted tracks from intriguing and engaging into something just a little more impactful and, I’d guess, the plainness of the vocals could prove an issue for some. There’s no denying, however, that Travis Benson is delivering music from the heart and that as he does the suggestion is that this may well be just the start of a long, rewarding musical voyage.

Track Listing
1. Sun’s Song
2. Daily Detriment
3. Braindead Megaphone
4. Aeolus Complex
5. Dancing Mania
6. Sky And Weather
7. Reaping Memes

Added: September 7th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Travis Benson on bandcamp
Hits: 222
Language: english

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