I was listening to a random playlist this morning when the epic Get Closer by my one-time hope for the future, Ben Westbeech, popped up. I’d forgotten quite what a great track it is, with Die’s piano-led drum & bass and Ben’s vocals melding perfectly. I’d not heard much of Mr Westbeech since he contributed one of the stand-out vocals to Jazzanova’s (excellent) album Of All The Things and so thought it might be worth seeing if he’d done anything new recently.
Well, one quick search on YouTube later and I found Falling, the video of which is above. It struck me as a very different vibe to his earlier stuff, and according to Wikipedia, that’s because he’s moved from Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood to house label Strictly Rhythm: I’m not sure it’s such a great idea. Whilst it might be the case that Strictly can offer him more backing in terms of support and marketing (I know the guys at Brownswood have to do most things on a tight budget) I can’t help thinking the change of direction means he’ll find it even harder to stand out from the crowd.
His early work, such as So Good Today and Get Closer had a really unique feel: a great blend of soul, hip-hop, drum & bass & whatever. But a lot of the album fell somewhere in the middle and I think that Jamie Lidell rather stole Ben’s thunder, and probably did what he was trying to do better than he could himself.
Now James Blake is all set to be the next best thing, and Ben’s releasing rather middle of the road vocal house. I hope it does well for him, but it’s certainly not setting my world on fire like his first singles did.
Image by Neal Fowler on flickr
But then, your last post was bigging up U2’s ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’… maybe Westbeech’s direction isn’t intended for you? He also makes experimental garage music as Breach, creating some of the most brilliant tracks of last year on PTN recordings.
I’ve never claimed to have anything other than very catholic taste in music, and can happily listen to Goldie one minute and a track by Girls Aloud the next. I’m not sure that not hating U2 disqualifies me from liking his new stuff (I’ve liked U2 for years, and it didn’t stop me raving about his first few singles which were, if you ask me, a lot less mainstream than Falling) and I think that, if you go back further than my most recent post, I’m pretty open to most things – so long as they’re good.
As I said, I hope that this new stuff does well for him, but I just can’t help thinking that there’s an appetite for the sort of stuff he was making, if he’d been able to pull some of it from average to amazing. I was also just wondering why, when you think about his own skills as a producer, he feels the need to hook up with others who, judging by this, really aren’t much cop.