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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Benjamin Diamond - Out Of Myself

Name: Benjamin Diamond
Album: Out of Myself
Year: 2005
Style: Electro-Pop
Similar Bands: Cornelius, Lightning Seeds, Marxy, New Order-Lite
One-Word Review: Smooth-Engineered-Bubblegum-Pop
Based Out Of: France / Panama City
Label: Diamondtraxx, !k7
Out Of Myself - Cover, Back, CD

Out Of Myself (2005)
  1. Mr. Fate 3:49
  2. Let's Get High 5:08
  3. Lights In The Sky 4:27
  4. I Wish 4:32
  5. Give Me The Grace 5:03
  6. Out Of Myself 4:33
  7. These Emotions 3:44
  8. No One Knows 4:51
  9. There Is A Girl 4:03
  10. She's Away 4:50
  11. Sun Is Shining 4:34
Album Rating (1-10): 9.0

Members & Other Bands:
Benjamin Diamond - Music & Vox (Chicken Pox, The Party, Stardust, Hushpuppies)
Jean-Michel Tixier - Art Direction & Design

Unknown-ness: This, along with a couple of other albums, is sort of an anomaly to my self-imposed rule. True: I did buy this CD at a thrift shop, but I did so only after I wrote the name down, went back to work, researched it, and came back to buy it. So I liked it, because I bought it. But I do not remember what I liked about it, or what it sounds like because I never really listened to it. I do like the block letter font of the title and name, and the cropped cartoonish eye/face. I like the simplistic color scheme, and it comes of as young, but with energy. I read a bit about this performer, and it seems like it will be electronic music from a guy with rock/punk roots. Sounds like it might be good.

Album Review: “Mr Fate” begins the record with driving drums and guitars. There is a bit of synthesizer in the background, but it is predominately a rock song. His vocals are quiet, smooth and very melodic. There are overlaid vocals too, distorted to a “drive thru speaker” quality. The production is very 80’s. But there is not much structure to the song. It is basically all chorus and does not diversify from the one rhythm and hook. “Let’s Get High” is another smooth vocal number. The music is relaxed and very mellow. Even when the music picks up a bit, it is still a euphoric cruise, like sitting on a comfy couch with scenery zooming by all around. The minimal production of the verse reminds me of Cornelius. “Lights In The Sky” begins with alternative sounding guitars and bass. There is a synthesized string section floating by in the background. The vocals are again smooth, but higher in pitch, reminding me a lot of the Lightning Seeds mixed with a touch of New Order. All the songs so far have been very good and catchy. The alternative sound gives way to a great poppy acoustic presentation of the same melody. “I Wish” begins with a quiet singing vocal and piano accompaniment. Then a polite dance beat kicks in for the chorus. The song rollercoasters back and forth between the quiet vocals and the dance track sections. “Give Me The Grace” begins like a slow piano ballad. But there is a hint of energy with the bass beat in the background. The song simply glides along with tinges of electronic effects, never taking away from the solemn vibe of the song. A deep sounding string instrument is added to increase the content feeling of the song. The title track, “Out Of Myself” begins with feedback, and then a bouncy guitar. There is lots of energy in the vocals, but the song feels like an attempt at making an all-purpose radio friendly track. It falls short of what has been presented before it. Some of the effects in the background are interesting, but the chorus leaves the listener wanting much more. Spacey sound effects bleed into the next song “These Emotions.” The effects end, and we are carried through ever-changing landscapes on the comfy couch again, with a spacey smooth pop ride. Once again I am reminded of the Lightning Seeds, with its vocal style, slick production and minimal, simple dance beat. “No One Knows” begins with an synthesized orchestral section. It is followed by an acoustic singer/songwriter section. Odd electronic effects are added to the background intelligently not detracting from the catchy acoustic feel, but somehow adding to it. There are some good anticipation / delivery moments in the song when the rhythm stops and picks back up perfectly. “There Is A Girl” presents a great bass line, played in New Order’s style. The smooth vocals are so clear and sound so close that they could be whispering right against your ear. This is the most rocking song, and as the production picks up, fuzzy feed back is added in the chorus, and is not as smooth as the rest of the song, or the album for that matter. But that is not bad. The melody reminds me of early Ash songs. “She’s Away” starts with acoustic strumming. And the usual smooth vocal is added. This song reminds me of Sondre Lerche. The deep strings are added bringing sorrow to the driving acoustic guitar. The final song, “Sun Is Shining” starts as the last song ended; with acoustic guitar. But here, electronic effects fill the background and eventually take over creating a lazy dance beat. The selection of bubbling watery computer effects is quite mesmerizing, but also amazingly cohesive. This song is somewhat anthemic. The song ends at 4:30, but there is still time left on the track. At 6:03, alien electronic effects, like numbers computing, begin. There is a slowly played piano and a mixture of effects and sounds creating a soundscape of what it must be like to wake up on Mars. And the effects fade out and the album ends with quiet.

Why have I not listened to this album more??? I really like it loads and loads. This album represents one of my favorite musical styles. Right behind evil carnival music and 70-80’s new wave rock lies this smooth electro pop genre that is so famously made by the likes of Lightning Seeds and Pet Shop Boys. It sounds so simple and so slick, but it is so head noddingly catchy, that you cannot hate it, and can barely sit still enjoying it.

Stand Out Track:
There Is A Girl

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