Ben Chatwin is a composer and producer working from The Vennel Studio in Queensferry, Scotland. He records and releases music as Ben Chatwin and also under the alias Talvihorros. Through his distinctive approach to analogue electronics, he crafts dense and dark compositions that hint at the conflicting beauty/chaos of the cosmos, resulting in daring music free from a traditional sense of structure and genre.
He combines bold melodic ideas with atmospheric noise and glacial ambience to create something organic, evolving and physically arresting. Ben has performed live across the globe with the likes of William Basinski, Hauschka, Tim Hecker, Oneohtrix Point Never and Loscil.
Following ‘The Sleeper Awakes’ (2015) and ‘Heat & Entropy’ (2016), ‘Staccato Signals’ is Ben’s third album under his own name, and his second with Village Green, set for release on 6th July 2018 through Village Green Recordings.
Feeding recordings of strings through an array of modular synthesisers and utilising modern sampling and granular synthesis, Chatwin remoulds ‘Staccato Signals’ into new microscopic electronic textures - 'Drone Signals'.
Unlike the original album, where Ben started with a blank slate and built the music up layer by layer finishing with the string quartet, this time the process began with everything on hand. The task became dismantling the tracks – stripping them apart to see what was left, letting certain sounds or instruments become the focus, and then rebuilding the arrangements around them. This allowed elements to breathe, yet also to become more static. The less chaotic and more ambient nature of these pieces suggested a related album of versions, a conceptual sibling.
In this way, ‘Drone Signals’ might best be understood as the aftermath of ‘Staccato Signals’, retaining much that made the latter such a rewarding album – it's mournful beauty, the tense, ambiguous relationship between electronic and acoustic elements, and a delicate if not volatile balance between elegance and intensity. However this time the palette is broader and more static – concerned more with monolithic structures than with sharp edges.
Ben Chatwin initially set out to make a purely electronic record with ‘Staccato Signals’, using primarily analogue and modular synthesisers, harnessing the unpredictability of hardware sequencers to write melodic lines rather than by hand with a keyboard. This was about giving up control to the machines – ultimately making them more of a collaborator than a tool. However, towards the end of its writing, not satisfied with the results, Ben was overcome with the feeling that he needed to push what he had created further into new territory, in order to invent entirely new sounds and textures. He decided to work with a string quartet, exploring innovative ways to fold, bury and combine both strings and brass into his industrial, noisy and chaotic electronic template. Again, this was about giving up control – working with other musicians, allowing them to improvise and arrange parts in order to find those special moments where something unexpected happens. The writing process became a search for those moments, the short, sharp flashes of inspiration – the staccato signals.
“I’ve learned that my most rewarding music arises when I switch off my brain and just let things happen. It can feel like waiting for these signals that are out there somewhere in the ether to strike. The less I think about, it the more likely it is to happen.” - Ben Chatwin
Composer and producer Ben Chatwin releases his new album 'The Sleeper Awakes' through Village Green on 4th May 2015. Written and recorded at Chatwin's home studio in Scotland. Inspired by the writing of H.G. Wells, 'The Sleeper Awakes' is Chatwin's first album to appear under his own name and follows last year's highly-lauded Talvihorros project 'Eaten Alive'. "I wanted 'The Sleeper Awakes' to represent the idea of a future that has been and gone. Before the information and telecommunications revolution there was a beautiful yet weird, naivety about what the future might bring and it was this that I tried to tap into whilst making the record. I sourced a one hundred-year-old Dulcitone (a kind of portable piano that was made for a short period of time in Glasgow at the turn of the Twentieth Century) and used it extensively, making it sit with modern electronics and synthesis. The pairing of older, traditional instruments with modern recording techniques and processes is something that I'm very interested in."