Posted on Sep 11th 2009 01:24 am
Say Goodbye To Useless
11 Tracks. 46mins08secs
Deru is the solo project of Los Angeles-based artist and sound designer Benjamin Wynn. Dealing largely with decaying electronic textures, fuelled by crisp hip-hop beats, his music is characterised by haunting melodies and a dense cinematic feel. His first missive, Pushing Air, came out on Neo Ouija six years ago, and was quickly followed by an EP and a second album, Trying To Remember (Merck), a year later. Since, despite a handful of remixes and compilation appearances, there has been pretty little coming out of Wynn’s den. It has to be said thought that he has been busy with the day job, which consist, amongst other things, in making music, including for animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which aired on Nickelodeon for three seasons.
Fast-forward to 2009, and Deru has not one, but two major releases out. The first, Genius, is a piece written for the Ballet de Paris, a collaboration with composer, arranger and musician Joby Talbot, who is perhaps best known for his string arrangements for The Divine Comedy, which will be premiered at the Paris Opera in November and has just been released. The second is this, his third solo opus, Say Goodbye To Useless, dropping on Mush this month. Once again, Wynn creates here a rather stunning series of soundscapes, using everything from distorted vocal samples and glitches to atmospheric waves and gritty bass lines.
The album opens with the chilling I Would Like, on which a slowed-down voice, singing in French, pierces through the crackles of an old vinyl, a theme which continues to resonate, speeded up this time and placed over a solid beat, on the following track, I Want. From there on, Deru deploys an arsenal of moody soundscapes and grooves, altering the intensity and nuance of his compositions as the album progresses. The mood occasionally appears surprisingly light (Hello, Fadeaway), but, more often than not heavy clouds descend on this album, bringing with them much more sombre undertones (Basically, Fuck You., Walk, Days, Then…, What Happens When You Ask), eventually leaving this album to implode on itself on the mournful Goodbye, leaving just an empty space at the end, with nothing to contend with.
Deru manipulates the tonal aspects of his music with great dexterity, and the years away have given his music added perspective, depth and maturity. The result is rather striking as Deru builds the emotional landscape of this record from I Would Like, a first blow from which it is pretty hard to recover entirely. He knows how to suggest feelings rather than dictate them, making Say Goodbye To Useless is a pretty smart record all round.