Compilations / Mixes
Build Buildings: A Generation of Books
No instrumentation is listed on Ben Tweel's latest Build Buildings collection A Generation Of Books, but that's alright: listeners familiar with his previous work know that he's something of a ‘found sound' producer who generates his colourful electro-acoustic material from household items (pencils, chopsticks, scotch tape dispensers, candy wrappers, etc.) as well as sampled instruments whose natural sounds are de-familiarized via computer processing. For this concise, thirty-six-minute set, Tweel mutated real-world samples and instruments such as piano (electric and upright), acoustic guitar, harp, mbira, and harmonica into crisp beat patterns and song structures.
Packed with detail (“Argosy,” for example, is so rich, it could pass for a roomful of typewriters compulsively clacking at lightspeed), the twelve tracks are vibrant in tone and playful in spirit, and the impression left is of a person who not only delights in creating music but is happy to leave excessively ponderous music-making to others. With ample doses of crackle and clatter sprinkled across Twell's productions, it's hard not to hear echoes of the clicks'n'cuts era that now seems so long ago. That's especially true of “Demba,” where a rapid thrum of clicks is joined by stuttering textures that can't help but recall early Oval. Elsewhere, “Constructed Light” similarly builds itself up from a generous array of micro guitar fragments, while “Heavy Water” flickers with a downtempo lope that doesn't seem all that removed from something Ezekiel Honig might have produced a few years ago. Rather more uptempo is “Arctic Open,” whose found sounds-generated percussion works itself into a groove that's vaguely suggestive of beatbox and even footwork.
If there's one thing that primarily distances Tweel's tracks from the clicks'n'cuts tradition, it's his focus on melody and song structure. Yes, there's no shortage of whirr and click within a given Build Buildings piece, but such elements are deployed in the service of the song. One comes away from A Generation Of Books thinking of it as a melody-based collection of instrumental songs that just happens to be assembled from found sounds and treated samples.