Three years in the making, The debut album from the psych-soul project of multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Adams (EVOLFO) is a reflection on “how to be humble in a world of patriarchy”
Beyond being an art form, music is a language. And while it’s not one all of us speak (much like my Spanish skills don’t extend beyond “Donde esta la biblioteca,” I’ve only mastered 1.2 songs on drums), it’s definitely one that we can all understand—and that many of us appreciate most.
Where words fail, music delivers, helping humans share personal stories, express universal emotions, find comfort and community and forge connections that might not exist otherwise, creating a middle ground where people of different backgrounds and beliefs can meet.
There’s nothing more beautiful than this universal language, and that’s why there’s nothing more impressive to me than those who are fluent in it—and, beyond that, the musicians who have mastered multiple tools for this method of communication, working alone to craft compositions that, while created by one individual, truly speak to us all.
Exhibit A: Benjamin Adams. A boundlessly talented multi-instrumentalist, Ben is the perfect example of this artistic wizardry, and it’s the killer debut record from his new psych-soul solo project Ochre that I’m absolutely thrilled to share with the world for the first time here.
This is Amnesia.
Given that Ben is a member of Brooklyn psych-rock seven-piece Evolfo, whose excellent new record just dropped two weeks ago, the beauty and (accessible) depth of Amnesia are certainly no surprise, and as the artist celebrated his band’s recent release while gearing up for this own, he offered some background on his solo debut:
“With ‘Amnesia’ I was really inspired by the Percy Shelley poem ‘Ozymandias.’ I tried to imagine that huge statue, half buried and eroded in the desert and dreamt up a world around it. Who was this statue of? What did they believe in? For me building this was about diving deep into my feelings about how to be humble in a world of patriarchy and portraying that through a lofi, soulful and psychedelic aesthetic.”
Amnesia was written and recorded in the artist’s apartment between 2017 and 2020 and “explores themes of pain, spiritual growth, patriarchy and psychedelia.” Beyond sharing the story behind the project, Ben also offered a breakdown of the album’s nine songs, from inspiration to instrumentation and the role each piece plays in the overall journey:
AMNESIA—TRACK BY TRACK:
“Son of Man“
“As the first song on the record ‘Son of Man’ really sets the tone for the coming journey both sonically and lyrically. This tape saturated, Shuggie Otis inspired psychedelic 6/8 ballad introduces the themes of feeling lost and confronting the patriarchy. Also fun fact My name Benjamin Adams loosely translates some of the lyrics in Hebrew.”
“Found My Heaven”
“On ‘Found My Heaven’ things start to look a bit more bright. This four part medley goes from an aspirational intro into an arpeggiated piano and vibraphone section. It ends with a Bernard Purdie inspired blissful chorus that transitions into a solo piano ballad meant to convey becoming unconsciousness. Fun fact here the piano used was my family’s piano in California where plucked my first chords out as a young boy.”
“Amble is a bit of a breather on in the record. This instrumental interlude was inspired in part by Brad Mehldau’s ‘Largo’ and features Jared Yee on the tenor sax.”
“‘Pomegranate’ was my favorite song to make. It goes all over the place in a stream of consciousness style of composition and features a re amped and fuzzed out sax solo again by Jared Yee.”
“‘Phaethon’ was probably the most difficult song to record and has the highest energy. It was inspired by listening to artists like Four Set and boards of Canada and features two separately recorded and stereo panned full drum tracks played by Angelo Spampinato.'”
“‘Exodus’ is another little break from the action the marks the beginning of the second half of the record. The melody in the A section is taken from a certain arcade game. Astute listeners may be able to figure out just what it is.”
“Nothing Beside Remains”
“‘Nothing Beside Remains’ is a tape drenched nylon guitar feature inspired heavily by the works of Fransisco Tarrega. This somber piece sets the table for the coming finale. The title of the track was taken from Percy Shelley’s ‘Osymandias.'”
“‘Orange’ is hands down my favorite song here. There were so many vocal takes and different synth and guitar textures to work with and blend together, all while keeping the tempo loose and flowing. The rhythmic outro Hints at themes of peace and the afterlife.”
“King of Kings“
“Similarly to the first half of ‘Orange’ in that the tempo is very loose. ‘King of Kings’ takes it to the next level with even more layers of vocals guitar and synth and no time being present at all. I tried to imagine this song as the a final reflection, perceived in a timeless spiritual state that could be life after death. It’s also a loose retelling of the story of Samson.”
Amnesia is out everywhere tomorrow! Scoop it up, turn it up and join the conversation. No google translate or duolingo lessons necessary.
Feature image provided by the artist.