BNJMN, Hummingbird

[Rush Hour Recordings]

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Only BNJMN can be this aggressively loud and leave behind the most delicate of impressions. His productions exploit digital audio’s potential for so-clean-it-hurts ultraprecision, but turn those icy, chirping high frequencies toward comfortingly humane ends. 2011 was a major year for the Englishman by anyone’s standards, with the then-unknown producer dropping two impressively realized and distinct LPs: the incandescent house of Plastic World on the one hand and the more restrained, at times ambient-leaning Black Square on the other. Ben Thomas’s latest for Rush Hour is the Hummingbird EP, which circles back to the sharper contours of Plastic World after a detour into the shoegaze fare of his Singing Statues project.

BNJMN, “Hummingbird”

The technicolor fizz blanketing this three-track EP throws the current fixation on “the death of rave” into sharp relief. BNJMN’s world remains a basically ecstatic one — it’s evocative but distinctly not funereal. Neither is it straightforwardly celebratory, and there is a certain pomp to the way his jacked-up, angular arpeggios refract off of the glassy surface of his productions, particularly on the appropriately restless title track. Like John Roberts, BNJMN balances a kind of abruptness — what sounds like the overeagerness of tracker software to hit its marks — with a far subtler melodic narrative. “Hummingbird” is a master class in turning sterility to emotive ends, its multiplying synth riffs blazing along with the serene velocity of a people mover in a modern airport.

“Slowwave” takes a darker, more reverberating tack with its warehouse-shaking kick drums and granulated, fishtailing drone. Additional loops create simultaneous layers of anxiety and restfulness: a hyperactive arpeggio and splashing hi-hats ride on top of its slightly loping rhythm while lucid pads offer respite from the busyness of the surroundings. So far, so good, but “CRVD” is the track that best accounts for BNJMN’s relatively quiet 2012. The up-front assault of the EP’s first two tracks gives way to something subtler and weirder here: its flabby bass line and new-age pads aren’t new per se, but the simmering, squeaky synths on the periphery give it a vibe that’s as protean as Jahiliyya Fields and as classically narrative as Tangerine Dream at their more triumphal. Legowelt and Xosar’s Xamiga collaboration steps in for a remix of the title track with the expected “X-Files” and Electribe mysticism. The machines pound pretty hard, but the duo can’t resist homing in on the track’s haunting main theme, something the original is a bit too busy to frame so clearly. From the home listener’s point of view, but not necessarily from the dance floor’s, this is a potent distillation of an aesthetic that, if anything, suffers from a surplus of ideas.

Comrad  on September 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM

I love music, but have a ridiculously short attention span and can never bring myself to read the waffle that is music reviews. Except yours. Fantastic blog, keep up the good work. One love.


BNJMN, Hummingbird | Little White Earbuds | 201...  on September 5, 2013 at 2:37 PM

[…] The technicolor fizz blanketing BNJMN's Hummingbird EP throws the current fixation on the death of rave into sharp relief.  […]

Little White Earbuds September Charts 2013 – Little White Earbuds  on October 4, 2013 at 8:55 AM

[…] Julius Steinhoff, “You Collect Secrets” [Live At Robert Johnson] (buy) 07. BNJMN, “CVRD” [Rush Hour Recordings] (buy) 08. Hugh Mane, “Hard To Finish If You’re Finish” […]

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