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London based artist Ben Vince is best known for his minimal & transcendent saxophone soundscapes. With ‘Assimilation’ we find Ben treading new ground with his recorded output, moving away from the limitations of solo Saxophone, instead embracing collaboration and communication to forge new paths. Whilst Vince’s Sax work still undeniably holds ‘Assimilation’ together, the new territories explored by working with an artistically diverse range of collaborators allows new life and influence to flow through Ben’s work. The album features collaborations with Micachu (Mica Levi), Rupert Clervaux, Merlin Nova, Valentina Magaletti, and Cam Deas. Ben Vince has also recently collaborated on a 12” with Joy O (forthcoming on Hessle Audio).
Ben explains 'Assimilation' as being a “demotion from creator to vector, being bounced off by different forces, whilst also allowing the wilder elements of my playing to flourish, which I could previously only get to as band member in other endeavours I’m involved in - Housewives (Rocket Recordings) or Data Quack (with Charles Hayward).“
‘Assimilation’ dives right in with Vince assuming downtown skronk, perfectly complementing the commanding no-wave theatrical vocal prowess of Merlin Nova. ‘Alive & Ready’ serves as an avant-garde energy blast, launching us into orbit.
Ben’s next spatial movement glides towards ‘What I can see’, a collaboration with Mica Levi, here donning her Micachu moniker to deliver her signature downcast experimental pop dexterity across Vince’s beautifully treated sax scape. The results are a moving, considered, crafted piece which undeniably nods towards Arthur Russell’s ‘World of Echo’, encompassing that same timeless, ethereal beauty.
Mica and Ben’s moment of longing melancholy is short lived, as we’re shuffled along to ‘Sensory Crossing’, a collaboration with Rupert Clervaux in which he evidences his groundings in Jazz percussion, experimental electronics, and deep interest in ethnomusicology - further exploring and expanding on the basin navigated during his collaborative album with Beatrice Dillon ‘Studies I-XVII for Samplers and Percussion’ to create a blanket of bubbling, wired, frenzied yet fluid motorik groove. Vince’s improvisation here remains restrained throughout, conversing with Rupert’s movements rather than attempting to shadow or overshadow them, an idea which perhaps is cemented in his exclamation that “Collaboration, and also the wider idea of 'communicating' in general, is, for me, assimilating the other, becoming the other, at least temporarily, to forge a point of connection. When we are able to let down our barriers, let ourselves affect and be affected, we can truly communicate.”
‘Tower of Cells’, another percussion led collaboration features drummer Valentina Magaletti (Editions Mego), and sonic explorer Cam Deas (Death of Rave). Magaletti’s immersive, hypnotic, & deep styling holds firm Deas’ synth transmissions & Vince’s wandering, brooding, layered sax drone across 10 minutes of truly refreshing alien Jazz – Think the Necks mixed by Scientist on this one.
‘Assimilation’ rolls us out in fine style with Vince riding solo. Fluttering tonal Sax lines build and build before become interspersed with layers of fourth world styled exotic flurries. Held together by a single perpetual hypnotic bass thud ‘Assimilation’ brings to mind the similarly exotic experimental works of Muslimgauze & Jon Hassell. This final track essentially serves as a space for some reflection, joyously winding down a journey which manages to truly make the ethereal and the intense run alongside each other in perfect harmony.