Correspondence - Wave Recital

Correspondence

Correspondence is the recording project of Ben Catt, an electronic musician and library worker based in Yorkshire. He previously played guitar in the Leeds noise-pop group Molars (2014-2016) and has recorded solo work extensively under various names for over ten years. Wave Recital is his first full album release following several ‘work in progress’ EPs and cassettes shared via Bandcamp.

Combining MIDI instrumentation, live percussion and field recordings, Wave Recital explores a variety of textures and dynamics over eight instrumental tracks. Each piece is written using a different process-based method (indebted to Steve Reich’s early essays), for example the increasing duration of electric piano and harp notes throughout ‘On Again’ and the gradual unveiling of a three-part marimba phrase on ‘Expanding Cycle’. This carefully structured approach to composition is countered by occasional flashes of noise and unpredictability, exemplified on the album’s lead track ‘Playing Field’ (contained within the confines of the short duration pop song form). Key influences on the sound of Wave Recital include Arthur Russell, Laurie Spiegel, Satoshi Ashikawa, He Can Jog (Audiobulb Records) and Julius Eastman.

Wave Recital

“With WAVE RECITAL Ben has recorded the perfect Correspondence album, IMO, in that it’s soft and slow and minimal at times but frequently picks up speed as patterns and loops become more frenetic (but never noisy), seemingly at risk of crashing into one another before dissipating. It’s music to empty the dishwasher to, but it’s also music to give your undivided attention to if you get the chance. Maybe while in the bath or having a lie down on the floor or somewhere comfier, an ideal complement to the silence.” - Steve Carlton, zine writer, musician and librarian (August 2017)

Credits: Written and produced by Ben Catt (Spring / Summer 2017). Mastered by Autistici.

AB073 | Nov 2017

 

Reviews

  1. Beach Sloth

    Correspondence taps into a celestial universe on the Steve Reich inspired “Wave Recital”. Elegantly executed the songs drift by as if in a glorious reverie. By opting for such clean simple tones the songs possess a light and airy spirit. Melodies emerge out of the many layers of sound working together. The entire album feels nearly weightless as times for the quiet joy and optimism that inform the album are without peer. Over the course of the album Correspondence effortlessly blends together the natural world alongside classical, drone, and ambient into a singular whole.

     Aptly named “Holding Cycle” introduces the album and sets the tone for what follows. Glistening work unfolds with such greatness. Electro influences come into the fray on the giddy mood of “Playing Field” where Correspondence incorporates glitch in a Reich-like fashion. Nearly silent “On Again” emphasizes the space between the notes, letting decay serve as a key component of the work. Letting things transform into a languid meditation “Slow Tone” chooses to do something different, allowing for every possible detail to become greatly magnified. Reminiscent of wind chimes “Flotsam” has a playful charm to it. Such delicacy and grace defines the elaborate work of “Harp Routine”. Utilizing a small yet economic beat “Expanding Cycle” drives forward with power. Closing everything on a high note is the dreamy “the North Sea”.

     “Wave Recital” shows off the impressive restraint and skill of Correspondence in creating elongated lovely gestures, ones that linger in the mind.

  2. Tiny Mix Tapes

    Catt got your loops? Haha, that’s so stupid. I’m leaving.

    Ben Catt, that is! That’s the man behind Correspondence, cap C, not all correspondence, small c, because no one can write that many letters, and you’d have to be a millionaire to afford all those stamps. No, Correspondence is Catt’s nom de guerre, and I’m the dad with the dad jokes today apparently. A librarian in real life (awesome!), Catt channels his love for the halls of his local Yorkshire lending institution into his electronic compositions, quietly introducing complex patterns and allowing them to blossom, at times into heady drones (“Slow Tone”) or sparkling crystal refractions (“Flotsam”). Other times, as on “Playing Field,” Correspondence explodes, the fractured melodies becoming full-on orchestral pop in his hands like putty becomes smooshed putty in mine. (I’m still at it.) And then the other librarians are all like, “Shush, Ben! People are trying to read!” And Ben’s all like, “Shush yourself, I’m at home, I’m not at work!” And Wave Recital, the first Correspondence full-length album after a couple EPs, is released into the world, and boy howdy does it just floor all those librarians, because they can’t figure out if it’s too loud or too quiet or just perfect for headphones as you sit in one of the comfy chairs and read a novel, not bothering anybody. And Ben’s mean old boss, the cranky Mr. Gutterspout, harrumphs over to Ben the next day and gruffly acknowledges that Wave Recital may just be the perfect newfangled recording that he and the other employees could enjoy while endlessly navigating the Dewey Decimal System (do they have that in England?), and maybe Ben’s not such a bad guy after all. Because, you know, he’s not bothering anybody. As a spectator to all this as it goes down in my imagination, I can’t help but wonder why this narrative decided to end on a wacky dance number, especially in the middle of a quiet library where everybody was just shushing everybody else a minute ago. But hey, in the end I’m not in charge here — whatever my brain wants to do, I’m just along for the ride.

    Wave Recital is out digitally on November 7 via the lovely Audiobulb and November 9 as a self-released limited cassette.

  3. Piano and Coffee

    An explosion of various MIDI instruments and live percussion, Wave Recital, the latest release by Correspondence (Ben Catt), is more than just an album – it’s a crazed deep dive into an experimental field of magnetic looping patterns and hypnotizing unpredictability. The UK based electronic musician resides in the musical world of Steve Reich and Arthur Russell, mixing minimalism with a constantly, innocently explorative soul. Utilizing several different processes and mixtures of sound, Wave Recital is as complex as it is fascinating, and requires one’s full attention.

    Holding Cycle is a fluttery, playful dream sequence, intentionally asymmetrical and erratic, followed by the chaotic cacophony of Playing Field, which practically satirizes itself in that it’s so fully unorthodox, it’s mind blowing. The track seems to have a mind of its own, as it – without any seeming intention – throws the listener in every which way, on and on, completely unapologetically. It is followed by its antithesis, the feathery On Again, like a wild animal at the edge of the forest, watching curiously, edging closer but always on the verge of flight. The track is a welcome change of pace and completely endearing with its enticingly slow build into a playful chase.

    Slow Tone certainly lives up to its name, an intriguing track with its unpredictable changes – the slight movement within each long tone urges you to listen more closely, enticing a sense of self awareness – am I imagining that particular sound, did it disappear, is it in my head? Harp Routine lends a deeper sound to the overall quite tense and sharp album – but this track, like all the rest, have the same experimental, spontaneous sense to it, and seems difficult to mimic.

    The last track of the album is the one that stands out the most and appears quite like a teaser to a path Correspondence might take in the future – The North Sea is like that conversation you don’t want to have, slow and full of pain but unavoidable – it’s a stunning ode to all that’s left unsaid, with the backdrop of an ocean after sunset. Overall, Wave Recital is an album that hits you like a train at full speed, completely unabashed and unafraid, and with a lot of surprising twists and turns keeping you constantly on your toes.

  4. Electronic North

    Correspondence is the recording project of Ben Catt, an electronic musician based in Yorkshire, England; and Playing Field is from his most recent album Wave Recital. It has more in common with the works of Steve Reich or Philip Glass than classic electronica – a series of musical patterns ebb, flow and interweave to create a hypnotic effect, but it’s all underpinned by a sense of rhythmic intensity and urgency that draws the listener in perfectly. Playing Field feels like the opening piece to a documentary that exists only in the mind of the listener.  You can find out more about Correspondence over at the Audiobulb website.

  5. Vital Weekly

    Behind Correspondence is Ben Catt, an electronic musician and library worker from Yorkshire, and once the guitarist in a Leeds ‘noise-pop’ group Molars. He worked with other monikers for the last ten years, but none of the names are mentioned. For his current music he uses ‘MIDI instrumentation, live percussion and field recordings’, and each of the eight pieces uses a different process-based method, owning to Steve Reich’s early essays. That is easily to hear in this music with its sharp percussion, piano and harp bits, gradually shifting about, not unlike Reich’s ‘Six Marimbas’, ‘Octet’ or such pieces, but perhaps a tad more mechanical, even when one easily not hear this, should one not be aware of it.  But this is not an all-round modern slab of minimal music.

    What Correspondence has to offer is quite  a varied bunch of musical interests. There is the very classical minimal approach (which also reminded me of The Lost Jockey, the lost great band from the early 80s), but there is also something more broken up, processed in the way piano sounds are used, there is a bit of atmospheric drones music, and thus it is in many different territories. It may seem as if Correspondence is not sure himself which way to go, and that he tries out various styles, but it is also a more deliberate thing. Not to show off, ‘see what I mastered’, but I gather it’s more like a musical journey, going from place to place. Lovely stuff.