Ben Lukas Boysen – Gravity (2013)

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Gravity, a fundamental, inexplicable force that Ben Lukas Boysen decided to devote an entire album to, or at least its name at any rate if you have alternative thoughts. I like the definition and concept of gravity, this idea of the force of attraction between bodies; not human necessarily, any object with mass will suffice. Did you know that the force of gravity is limitless? That a star a billion light years away has a minute gravitational effect on you right at this moment? I like that, the idea that every iota of the universe, every macroscopic and microscopic agglomeration of matter has some kind of an influence on everything else, even if it is so minute as to be considered immeasurable. I like to think Ben has worked this out for himself too, but instead of perhaps my more poetic, universal view he has perhaps chosen a more direct and deliberate route between individuals in this 40 minute journey.

There are two sides to this album really, the first is the piano dominated side and the second is the bolder, more energetic Post-Rock side. Opener “Only In The Dark” introduces us to the former effortlessly, leading us in with slow and considerate keystrokes just hanging alone in the emptiness with nothing more than our own thoughts and Ben’s melancholy, a vague and hopeless attempt to close physical distance by bridging it with sound. The second side to the album, the Post Rock side, is brought in quickly with “Nocturne 1”, not dismissing the piano entirely but making sure the percussion and drone swells keep this piece a peak and drive it through the hard, rocky times that are being alluded to.

“You’ll Miss Us One Day” sets in motion a much more melancholic series of events, a sound that I just cant escape from when I hear piano music. Perhaps pianists are better at manipulating it to sound particularly sad compared to other instruments, I don’t know, but its minor key, slow and quiet delivery really just emphasise that feeling of departure and loneliness. But then it appears, the title track, and the ripples of those gravitational waves are set in motion as the piano tinkles in the presence of the lightest of drones and the quietest of violins, and like a snowball grows or like a planet accretes it gains traction, scale and scope as it brings the full force of the Post Rock influences into a loving climax with percussive assistance. Its the rapid and euphoric descent, the knowing smile that accompanies the knowledge that what goes up must also come down and bring those two masses together again.

“Eos” takes the edge off once more, bringing that piano back alone to the fore, the notes crisp and clear echoing minutely on the dark stage. This back-and-forthness continues with “Nocturne 2”, which again is stripped back to the bone but refuses to leave the piano by itself. Bold guitar and percussion eventually breaks the near silence at around the 3 minute mark, if only to add some necessary oomph to the rather wistful precedings. It feels a little peculiar with its disappearance as abrupt as its entry, sinking back into the dark and quiet abyss from whence it came as the drone slowly, imperceptibly, fades away.
And then we reach the closer, “The Behinian Gospel”, picking up right where we left off with slowly rising and falling pulses of delicate drone fog, the fragile fabric of space-time being carefully manipulated and flexed as it expresses these gravitational forces between bodies, even over seemingly impossible distances.

There’s definitely an intimacy here, something that only piano can achieve, an intimacy exhchanged by a few singular individuals, but similarly there are allusions to this overbearing, inextricable force weighing down on us with its omnipresence. In an earlier, now erased, review of this release I made note of this concern that we are small, useless and insignificant beings in the glorious size and scope of the universe, but remember that gravity is a force with no bias. Ok it does favour those largest of objects but there is also an equality that we often overlook, that even the smallest mote of dust can exert a force on the largest star. Even the most hopeless situation is not insurmountable, and you can still share a connection with that special someone despite physical distance through the interconnectedness of this universal force.

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