One of, if not perhaps the most powerful aspect of music as an art form itself lies within its very fundamentally unique medium-specific trait of being able to chronicle an experience. Whether its purpose is to underpin the emotional climax of teenage drama, to distract you as you nervously wait in the lobby of a prestigious firm to be called upon for a job interview, or even to be sung back to you as you blow out the candles of a nondescript birthday cake – music can make you feel, remember, move, connect and so much more, often times all at once. Here in lies the function to the aesthetic form of Ben Böhmer’s ‘Breathing’, a simultaneously evocative and emotionally charged amelioration of Ben’s personal heartache as well as a listener’s insightful and thought-provoking reverie.
Largely melancholic all in all, the thirteen-strong track listing serves as a thoughtful soundtrack to a tumultuous time in Böhmer’s life in which he encountered the loss of a close family member, cataloguing his journey through not only his experience with grief, but the eventual character defining alleviation of these symptoms in what is ultimately a coming of age story. This concept is introduced first in self-explanatory opening track ‘In Memoriam’, but perhaps foremost in album standouts and guest-featuring pre-release singles ‘Breathing’ with vocalist Malou and the Monolink–featuring ‘Black Hole’, where in incredibly lush soundscapes and atmospheric foley serve in tandem to backdrop deliberate chord progressions, assertive bass-lines and wispy, almost mystical combinations of percussion and found sound. Böhmer does an excellent job here of placing each and every track in an otherworldly space whilst exploring both progressive melodic structures, but most importantly always consciously adheres to an accessible sense of popular form that is sure to see the collection of work’s bouncing around forward thinking nightclubs and festival campsites alike.
The dual purpose of the album only comes into focus more and more as the tracks go on. ‘Wall of Strings’, whilst being more aggressive in energy is third in a series that seems almost to perpetuate a forming trend almost mirroring that of the philosophy of the five stages of the grieving process itself. The opening tracks having initially conveyed motifs of shock and denial through to pain and guilt, a thumping four on the floor rhythm of the kick drum here seems to imply a keener sense of kinetic ‘anger’ before dissipating with the depressively haunting yet beautiful Cloud 21 and finale ‘Little Lights’, equally an allegory of acceptance and prospect of eventual hope.
Given time to digest, the result is one of the most courageous stories told in an LP by an artist in the underground dance scene in recent memory as everything ultimately concludes with a positive spin. Too often are we told self-indulgent stories of glorified tragedies or fantastic fables, but all too rarely is the narrative altruistic in intent, with ambition to leave listeners better for having found it. It’s Böhmer’s adhesion of light to the dark, of melody to atonality, and of optimism to the fundamental flaws of the human condition that truly demands admiration here, ‘Breathing’ stands triumphant as a brilliant silver lining contrasting the pockets of such true life adversity.
Tickets for Ben Böhmer’s ‘Breathing’ world tour are on sale now – check out the dates below and get your tickets here.