Benjamin James – “The Referent”


Benjamin James just released his new album, Change is Everything, this past week — with seven of the tracks available on Soundcloud. James presents a captivating vein of organic folk that’s emotional and ethereal, the moving orchestral elements combining with his soft vocals for a memorable format.

“Monolith” rides on an exotic, jerk-y string-like accompaniment over these vocals, with reflective trickles arriving alongside the percussion as various vocal layers combine with orchestral flourishes around 01:20. It reminds of a more avant-garde Andrew Bird. Another highlight, “Luminary” begins with a creeping orchestral lull, as James releases a folk-friendly vocal melody, sparsely beautiful as gentle xylophones accompany a cinematic rhythmic bustling.

My favorite from the release is “The Referent”, a track that combines all of James’ strengths beautifully — from his exotic, orchestral build-up effects to his melodic captivation and gentle vocal presence. The repetition of “seek the referent” induces a hypnotic, engaging hook that’s propelled by the gradual development of bass and keys. The entirety of Change is Everything is recommended, with these three tracks being a nice introduction to Benjamin James’ captivating sound.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

Send your music to [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.