Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Ben Gregory’s moving and powerful debut album ‘Episode’

Former vocalist and guitarist for indie rock band Blaenavon, Ben Gregory has produced a masterful yet heart-wrenching debut album ‘Episode’. Following the band's breakup in November last year, Gregory has announced his debut record will be released on April 7th, and it is full of emotion, poignant messages and relatability.  

Ben Gregory has always been honest about his mental health and his struggles over recent years, and this album feels like a form of Ben’s therapy in the most beautiful way. The honesty and vulnerability of Blaenavon’s music and lyrics are something fans have always appreciated, and now Ben Gregory carries on the openness of mental health which is so important in today’s society.  

The eerie and out-of-time guitars and vocals in the intro of the opening song ‘storm of conversation’ progresses into this beautiful experimental piece of music which really does feel like a storm of instruments talking to each other. It is the perfect opener to what is to come in this album.  

‘blue sea blue’ is the second track on this record with its 10 minutes of pure musical bliss. The trumpet is the core of this track at the start, as well as the chirpy synth and piano sounds. Ben’s vocals in this track really unveil his talent with its varying pitches and atmospheres it creates throughout as you listen. This record is a special one. It takes you on a journey of inspirations starting with techno synths leading to jazz-influenced elements before heading into a Spanish-sounding verse. To make a such a beautiful song full of so many varying sounds is mindboggling yet magical.  

Ben Gregory’s 2nd solo single ‘manifest’ is a perfect example of how a song can be like a book. The vocals and lyrics make you feel like your in a book. This combined with the changing beats and volumes depending on the lyrics is something that makes the listener feel like they being transformed in to Ben’s story. An example of this is the lyric ‘‘my thoughts start to race’’ mixed with the increasing volume and intensity of this part of the track. 

The busy, electronic sound of Ben’s first piece of solo music ‘deathbed hangover’ is a whole genre in itself. You can really hear influences of artists like James Blake in this record with its morphed and blurry vocals alongside the flickering techno noise and angry guitars. The music experimentalism in this track is something completely unique and not heard very often by indie bands/artists. The atmosphere this song creates resonates with Ben Gregory’s honesty about mental health. The rhythm and the story these instruments provide the listener are an indication of what has been going through his head. The business, the chaos and then back down to the relaxed and chilled piano playing gives the listener an idea of the journey he has been through.  

The final song on the album ‘god bless you’ is the perfect indie/alternative closer to the album that Blaenavon fans will be so happy to hear. It has conversational vocals in the verses, stunning base playing, catchy guitar riffs and punchy drums, the perfect recipe for an indie banger.  

It is so amazing to hear all of Ben Gregory’s incredible musical ideas in each of the tracks on this record. The mix of electronic to low fi to jazz, and it all blending into one to create this perfectly balanced record is a triumph. 

Ben Gregory’s debut album ‘episode’ will be released on April 7th 

Alice Mason

@alicemxson /@alicegoestogigs

Image: ‘episode’ by Ben Gregory Official Album Cover

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