Ben Crosland – The Turn EP (Bigo & Twigetti)

Ben Crosland – The Turn EP (Bigo & Twigetti)

London-based Bigo & Twigetti is rapidly becoming this writer’s favourite label of 2020. First they share the ingenious, churning, vibrant sampladelia of Leah Kardos with the world – her Bird Rib album is a delight – and now they’ve done it again with this six track EP, from Worcester composer and pianist Ben Crosland.

In the broad brush stroke world of genre classification, this would probably be dubbed ‘modern classical’. That said, it’s probably closer in its atmosphere and construction to the ambient work of Harold Budd and Roger Eno. The six pieces are short but packing tons of atmosphere. Apparently recorded as Storm Ciara swept across the UK in February 2020, they are intimate recordings with a personal vibe, the sound of fingers on keys and feet on pedals making you feel like you’re hunkered down with Crosland himself as the elements rage outside, as he offers up a bit of calm to hang onto. ‘Oceans Apart’ opens proceedings, gently tinkling like summer rain on rooftops, clocking in at just over a minute but time enough to draw you into its world. ‘Memento’ comes next, a little sadder and deeper, fingers forever hitting octaves but overall, restlessly refusing to settle. ‘Surface Waves’ also leans toward the reflective end of the spectrum, notes held in sustained suspended animation, while ‘The Hourglass’ is more playful but still maintains a sense of the mysterious, while boasting probably both the EP’s most distinctive motif and some of its most acrobatic playing.

Title track ‘The Turn’ has a more comforting air, typical Crosland style in the sense that it’s only when you examine it closely you discover there’s some pretty deft musicianship happening. Or, it’s all about the melody and arrangement rather than showing off or being flashy. The aptly titled ‘A Departure’ is the final piece of the puzzle, arguably the most sincere and straight forward here, wearing a sad heart proudly on its sleeve. It’s all over before you want it to be, leaving you tempted to give another spin there and then. So much classical music is overblown or overdone or both, but Ben Crosland makes a much bigger statement with his mastery of the understatement. Friendly on the ear but seductively deep once you begin to explore, The Turn will turn you into a fan for sure.

The Turn is out now on Bigo & Twigetti

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