The album's first single/video, 'Hovering at Home' is available today.
Says Woods of the video, “'Hovering at Home' is about the magical world we hold onto in hermitude. Initially, I thought it was about hiding, but as we carried on building the song, I came to realise it was more about finding points of connection between that inner world and the outside.
The video is a retelling of a paranormal experience I shared with my cousin as a child. One night we were visited by an inhuman entity dancing at the window. Initially, I was frightened of its thin gyrations but have come to think of it as a fond memory.
Tom Tuke (the puppeteer) and I spent days trawling through the markets and charity shops of Auckland before Martin flew up to join us. We worked at a small studio that was built into a desolate train stop. We built hillsides from Chinese winter melons, and devils out of fish guts and bones. Stashed away with Tom and Martin, carefully building this surreal universe, felt like the right way to serve the spirit of the song.”
Ben Woods' beguiling new album, Dispeller, out July 15th through Shrimper / Melted Ice Cream / Meritorio.
Dispeller was recorded throughout a year in Ben’s hometown, the famous "little town" of Lyttelton, with Ben Edwards (Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams, Julia Jacklin) at the helm of the mixing console and co-producing. Sounds such as footsteps, and the rattles of the room linger beneath the album’s dense instrumentation, alluding to the familiar space the songs were captured in.
“I found my voice in trying to make atonality croon,” he says. “With Dispeller it was less about harmony — the blend was capturing the songs very honestly in the room, and still making each of them to transport you somewhere different.”
In comparison to his 2019 debut PUT, the songs here are stronger, the instrumentation stranger. 'Hovering At Home' features mangled tape machine interjections and manipulated sax. Clusters of unsettling piano tip 'Teething' toward the surreal. With chopped and screwed vocal contributions from underground hero Alastair Galbraith, ‘Speaking Belt’ snaps and pulses with the sordid clatter of a lost Xpressway single. Charlotte Forrester from Womb (Flying Nun) adds their diaphanous voice to 'The Strip' and 'Punishing Type'.
On fragile duet 'Wearing Divine', Lucy Hunter (Opposite Sex / Wet Specimen) threatens to steal the limelight, before a full hive of Marlon Williams’ honeyed vibrato comes spluttering out of what sounds like a rusted can.
Woods' melodies bring to mind Scott Walker's dramatic tunefulness, while his voice holds something of Gordon Gano's waver, pushed through New Zealand vowel mangling. Dispeller's arrangements hit at the subtle, reactive instrumentation of late-era Fugazi, the glowing murk of Grouper, the Antipodean-gothic drudge of Tall Dwarfs, and the mechanical outer crust of Sparklehorse.
However, while Woods experiments with the disparate and the disharmonious, it is the open heart that elevates Dispeller. His voice holds the physical and spiritual middle; flirting with, but never succumbing to the splendour and turmoil which surround it.
Dispeller out July 15th, 2022 on Melted Ice Cream (NZ) / Shrimper (USA) / Meritorio (EU/UK).