With all Miguel Baptista Benedict releases there is a point. After the first listen, that point might not be apparent, but it is there. After listening to his latest offering mbb_ex, his fourth in six months, you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s all white noise, creepy vocals, incessant glitching, haunting piano and everything else under the sun to make you feel uncomfortable and that, at the end of the day, MBB is taking the piss. After another couple of listens you start to find something more cohesive and thought out.
MBB albums has left us a brief explanation of the creative mind set on mbb_ex “thoughts of the Devil; all tracks recorded and produced within ≤ 30 min. (continuation proceeded through 10.01.2015)”. After reading this, listen back to the album with a cognitive approach and realise there is a pattern emerging. The immediacy and lo-fi nature of the album becomes apparent. As does that uncomfortable vibe that accompanies some of the tracks.
The album opens with what sounds like a drone metronome while glitchy white noise invades the mix. Then, a wind instrument breaks through and brings clarity and reason to this maelstrom, as the song progresses the white noise vanishes and we’re left with the wind instruments and drums. All of a sudden track two starts and a metal-esque guitar enters our ears. This short sharp dose of metal only last fifty seconds then the motif from the opening track returns. This call and response carries on for the majority of the album. After a lo-fi psychedelic track, a heavier/menacing track follows. Has MBB created a soundscape of a conversation between God and Devil or are the calmer tracks the Devil offering someone a deal for their soul and the harder tracks the time when he comes to collect? Or is it merely one man taking his, and our, ideas of the Devil and trying to put that to music? Only MBB knows that answer to that and he, like the Devil, isn’t showing his cards just yet.
While mbb_ex isn’t as immediate and refined as his April release Daddy, with its lurid psychedelic dreamlike soundscapes and catchy hooks and melodies there are moments of mbb_ex that equal the previous outing. But overall mbb_ex isn’t meant to be like it’s predecessor. MBB rarely returns to the same sound twice and never on back-to-back releases. What mbb_ex shows again is that MBB doesn’t sit on his laurels and is constantly not just challenging us listeners with what electronic music can be in 2015 but himself too. While this isn’t everyone’s taste, it does raise interesting questions as to what constitutes music and composition.