Creaking and lurching with synthetic grooves, Ben Shemie’s lo-fi psychedelic textures careen across genres boundaries, producing pop music at the outer edges of harmony. There’s a sense of enormous potential in his liminal sounds—avant-garde, cavernous exercises in rhythm and song that are chaotically unpredictable yet strangely familiar.
With a background in modern classical composition and experimental performance, Shemie may be most instantly recognizable as the lead singer and guitarist of Montréal art rock outfit Suuns, whose four-album run over the last decade has tactfully blurred the lines between Krautrock, free jazz, and IDM-indebted no wave. In Suuns, Shemie excels at giving complicated elements space to breath and coalesce into a maximally effective freakout. Always exploratory and meticulous, Shemie's solo pursuits involve performance based experimental sound practices that integrate freeform excursions and more structured compositional music—veering into classical, radio art and new technologies. Enduring Love from 2017 was a powerful improv-heavy piece of angular, ambient drone, while the latest, A Skeleton, is a starkly visceral experimental pop album dipped in corrosive acid—constructed from live experiments on the road and recorded in a single-take with no overdubs. From the clanging nods to ’80s minimal wave to percussion patterns that resemble pitch-shifted, malfunctioning trip hop beats, a feeling of spontaneity runs throughout, with Shemie’s striking voice as the sole thread holding the precarious thing together.
While A Skeleton may have cold sounds of automated detachment, Shemie brings an intimacy to each track through a masterful manipulation of every piece of the soundscape. At MUTEK, Shemie will breathe life into his primitive electronic configurations, infusing icy synthetic sounds with a lo-fi, sun-bleached warmth.