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Touched Music Review

Touched Music continues in style this November, ramping up to an epic 2020 with an incredibly well-rounded offering from Lyrus. Found In is the collaborative work of Dean De Benedictis (Surface 10) and Frank Prinzen, long-time friends who’ve put their heads, hands and hearts together to produce a rich collection straight out of California. Apparently they have a hard time agreeing on names for things but I’m happy they’ve agreed to work together full stop as the album is awesome.

Right off the bat we’re thrown into lush surroundings—”Headria” is a dense rainforest of a song that gives me serious “Papua New Guinea” vibes and good feelings aplenty, what follows with “You Solve Me, Sucka” is both incredibly different but in the same vein. Its drums are well polished, owning a serious jam with lots to hook on to and opportunities to hum along.

“Skiesthatmissus” scratches right to the core, the initial rhythm never letting go as it builds into a pumping and vibrant track. So pumping in fact that Touched veteran Karsten Pflum has included a reworking, twisting it up a bit, throwing some acid in and making it a tiny bit more dancefloor. Both versions are great, playing on different themes but keeping it ever-flowing.

The following three tracks dial it back a bit but don’t let up all the way. The silent transition between “Omnidirectional Biatchnal” and “The Lyrus Bricklayer” tricks and doesn’t quite prepare me for the latter track. And there really is some bricklaying going on here, it’s a truly well-structured and layered piece with three clear movements, musical storytelling at its finest. Rounding off the trio—”Unsuckening” pleases with its drifting swirls and delayed melody.

The last of the non-remixed tracks, “Love Ly” is the calm before the storm and wouldn’t be amiss at a meditation session. Another piece that ships with two additional versions, we’re given one from Dean himself with a Surface 10 remix and one from Antonyme. The former is a thoughtful emphasis on the more powerful parts of the song, another way of experiencing the same emotions (they sound lovely when played back to back by the way) and if I thought things couldn’t get more relaxed the Antonyme remix proves me completely wrong as it sends me into space.

Additional remixes all give us unique versions of what were already interesting pieces. A previous Surface 10 collaborator—Niture—provides a version of ‘Skiesthatmissus’ that’s quite abstract but manages to hold onto the key beauty. Attraktta uses the raw power from the melody of
“Headria” to strong effect, channeling the force of his 2018 release on Touched and Ruxpin nails it with a rather ambient-beat version of “You Solve Me, Sucka,” maintaining all the feelings of the original in a different package.

We hope that Found In is found in your collection (pun and bad use of the English language intended). Only 100 physical copies are available with artwork by Nathan David in a stylish and modern single DVD case, and a digital release in all of your favourite formats. All proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support.

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Salvaging the Present Review

What an interesting album this is. The first time I listened to it I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into but about halfway through I was hooked and each listen thereafter was a deeper journey into the heart of this fascinating album. What pulled me into this most excellently constructed soundscape was the first track on this album called To the Ends of Elation. I think that perhaps because it was so dense with things happening on the soundstage that a quick listen will not suffice for a listener to truly appreciate all the work that Dean has put in on this recording. With this first track clocking in at 8:29 it really gives you a chance to dig into the composition and feast upon the carefully constructed composition that is aurally satisfying as Dean shifts and weaves the sounds onto his musical canvas in very pleasing and very thought provoking ways.  

And lest you think that this album was going to be a one track wonder never fear because track 2 called Micro Souls Anthem also clocking in at a hefty 8:18 simply picks up the ball from the first song and continues to dazzle the listener with even more sonic mastery as Dean continues to move this album forward into deeper realms where the ground suddenly gives way from under your feet leaving you suspended in the darkness surrounded by a velvety blackness which is the start of track three called Pagoda Tiempo. This song has a quite the range and since it has a length of 9:36 it has the luxury of building momentum as it moves along. From the darkness there comes the occasional sounds and those sounds begin to become more dominate until around the 3:30 mark in the song they gradually build up and almost take on a darker overtone as they begin to shape and contour the musical landscape into something else. By the end of the track you are given a brief respite as you are allowed to float into the next track.  

Never the Sacred Stretch which is the next song on this album is a standout song and features some very imaginative work as Dean blends and tweaks and constructs sounds and sequences into a masterpiece that simply grabs and holds the listener's attention throughout this excellent piece. By the time I had reached this song I already knew that I would be going back for a second and a third listen so that I could comprehend all that Dean was pouring into each and every song on this album. This song would be a great standalone composition that could be listened to over and over again.  

All in all this album is a wonderful effort from Dean De Benedictis that spotlights his ability to shift the sonic landscape of his music into a variety of shapes and configurations until it becomes what he needs it to be to complete his musical vision of the finished product. It is a well balanced album and keeps the listener interested and moving forward at the behest of the musical current that Dean has created during the flow of this project. Just because music is not a physical thing that can exhibit currents like a river don't let that fool you into thinking that music doesn't have a current that can pull a listener along as it carries you downstream. It can. It does. Salvaging the Present does indeed have a current and as you listen you will find that it is quite a strong one that it will pull you along to the very end of the album. Highly recommended by Ambient Visions.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of Ambient Visions

Salvaging the Present Review
Star's End Review

Dean De Benedictis has a bed, but does not sleep. He is a man made out of electricity, with creativity siting in his chest like a burning sphere. Forever battling convention, the current of his energetic imagination is released throughout Salvaging the Present (70'09") - an album wandering in wonder across nine stormy stories in electronic sound. Knowing that people both crave the new, and fear it, De Benedictis works out an appealingly ingenious mix of mammoth forces, minor exaggerations, and modish pranks - all in service to an ample cosmological orientation and awareness. De Benedictis is a technologist, still moving faster than the wave. The mental machinery he used to realize Salvaging the Present effectively imagines glowing sonics and grooves, as well as it does dreamy thought zone tones. From out of the middle distance, sounds, wider than they are high, emerge and ascend. At the margins of perception, a pixie-dust lightness, then the immense sigh of gracefully deformed metal. In a moment of somnolence, we envision night-blue sky - in the layering diaphanous tones of breathing strings and ethereal choir. Restorative sunlit notes offer balance, when velvety dungeon hues of dread become too much to bear. Why can not men better appreciate the present? The invisible now... We find with Salvaging the Present an openness to each and every moment as an opportunity to create something new - and the hope to have renewed, our faith in the potential we carry within.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   23 February 2017

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