Exposé Online banner

Ben Cox — Consciousness and Other Tricks of the Light
(Spotted Peccary SPM-4501, 2020, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-06-13

Consciousness and Other Tricks of the Light Cover art

With a long history of recording music for television, trade shows, and radio ads, Cox’ main gig is as a mastering engineer for the Spotted Peccary and Lotuspike labels (as well as some independent artists) going way back to the mid-80s. With only one previous release, On Water in 2005, his work through the years has been mostly behind the scenes, but one listen to his latest Consciousness and Other Tricks of the Light will convince anyone that he is a powerful electronic composer in his own right, with a plethora of original ideas and a profound understanding of dynamics, structure, melodic concepts, free space, and textures within the music he creates. There are only six tracks here, ranging from only a couple minutes to nearly an album side, and each one is completely different from all the others, creating a unique listening experience. Normally I’m not fond of spoken words together with music, but on the album opener, “Einstein Cross,” Cox fuses a bouncy and melodic electronic rhythm with something akin to a physics lecture going on in the background, as the sound grows and evolves, One might well be reminded of a collision between mid-70s Kraftwerk and Djam Karet’s “Consider Figure Three”; the important thing is that it works splendidly, and with only one track of its kind on the album, it holds a unique place in the overall journey forward. Cox offers a masterful command of studio ambience juxtaposed with powerfulful distorted electric guitar textures on the album’s shortest track, “Chirality,” one that I’m wishing could go on much longer than just shy of three minutes. “Delta Waves” is a perfect union of ambient electronic sounds, melodic structures that come and go as the piece proceeds, and subtle undercurrents of texture that form waves beneath the surface, shaping the ongoing sonic envelope; again this is only a little over eight minutes but could easily be the seed for a much longer piece. The thirteen-minute closer, “Matins,” works in deep subconscious territory with subtle shades of tone evolving slow motion over the duration, with brightly colored melodies cutting through the hazy fog at random moments, with curious bubbling and scritchy noise elements crackling through the surface as it proceeds. With two more excellent tracks that haven’t even been mentioned yet, Cox is certainly mining a different vein than most of his Spotted Peccary colleagues, but it’s one that is at once interesting and satisfying. Go listen for youself at the link below.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Ben Cox

More info

Latest news

New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Landberk - One Man Tell's Another – From the opening moments of this CD, it is obvious that this Swedish band has greatly matured. The follow-up to 1992's well received but unspectacular debut Lonely Land, One Man Tell's Another...  (1994) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues