Maybe it is my lack of imagination or maybe it was growing up during the era of the Apollo Program, but when I picture the busy maze of knobs, ports, lights, and crisscrossing cables that make up a modular synth setup, the last thing I expect are warm, organic, efflorescent sounds full of soulful melancholy and longing. But, that is exactly the kind of music that Bay Area musician Austin Cairns produces with these devices under the moniker of r beny (an homage to Canadian photographer Roloff Beny). Building on the extraordinary work of his previous releases ‘saudade’ (Dauw, 2018) and ‘cascade symmetry‘ (self-released, 2017), Cairns gives us a late-year gift in the form of ‘eistla’.
“A recurring dream. The frozen landscapes of isolation and loneliness. Fragmented memories lost at sea. Cold, sharp light // Glowing rays of hope in the morning. // It was just a dream.” – r beny
This album happened to arrive at a particularly frenetic and stressful time for this writer, and I was amazed at the power of this music to soothe the soul and reset the mind while filling the ears with lush, understated beauty – the mesmerizing undertow of “in the violet and lingering winter dusk”, the sumptuous textures of “green and gauzy”, the hushed tranquility of “glacial tongues” just to cite a few examples. I’ll be keeping this one close at hand for quite a while.
eistla is now available digitally or on limited edition cassette (200 copies) via the r beny Bandcamp page, though the cassettes are shown as sold out as of this writing.