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Side By Side: Anne Müller on Ben Lukas Boysen's Mirage

28.6  2022


This week in our Side by Side series Anne Müller shares her thoughts on fellow German composer Ben Lukas Boysen's 2020 LP Mirage, which she featured on.

"Mirage truly is a voyage of discovery. When I heard the first tracks for the first time in his studio, I was already blown away. A journey into electronic beats full of power and sophistication, paired with synth sounds, organic elements like voice, cello, drums and saxophone, piano for the heart and the melancholy. It is one of my favourite albums and not because I contributed my cello to it. It was, rather the other way around, my deepest desire from the bottom of my heart when I heard the music the first time in Bens studio and I’m very thankful to be a small part of this. What triggered me — somehow this album combines many things I know with completely new things into simply great things. I hear so many interesting details, which I love as a classical trained musician nerd, but also the big musical picture in a beautiful frame. Here are my thoughts I want to share with you as I’m listening to the album. Would you like to join me on this expedition?

Let's start with the first track - EmpyreanThe sampled voice of the wonderful Lisa Morgenstern leads us with surges like an organ arpeggio in harmony to a playful click beat until it stops after this long intro as if on a pedal point alla Bach. Beat and a slightly detuned synthesiser kick in and along with the deep cello/synth bass just wait for the track to finally get going — which won’t happen. Very clever, come to think of it. High vocal elements create tension and finally the cello and bass synth begin to breathe in and out together until everything fades away one by one at the end. A wonderfully energetic and sonically interesting piece.

Kenotaph follows. The piano starts solo with a chord cadenza - almost a recovery after the fire of the first piece — until the second time it rather accompanies the now lead playing drums of Achim Färber intensely. The piano is suddenly accompaniment and harmony giver. In the duet, a playful Moog lead-synth enters and takes over the counterpart to the drums in the quasi chorus. This piece is so wonderfully chamber-musical and differentiated with many waves of emotion.

MedelaIn the same key as just heard last, a synth chord-melody approaching from the depths of Boysen's Kenograph universe until it all comes together in a clear picture in processed saxophone played by Daniel Thorne. As if in a slow dance, the head is swaying with the music, the beats and the pulsing dark chords, which always start quietly in a crescendo and then swell to stop and start again. The cello is dreaming along with close high cluster sounds until the end with a faster beat in a song discharges. At this ending we finally hear Dan Thorne non-sampled and just as the synth chords approach at the beginning, the saxophone takes us back into the dark of Boysen's cosmos.

Venia is like a continuation and flows from Medela into something mysterious. Here different elements fly together through the sound worlds and almost polyrhythmically the beat throws me from one string to the other, like in a rain where the water drops are knocking on a roof and you get lost in it. A truly musical journey and look behind the mirror.

ClarionCello-harmonics give a clear transparent sound-bed and the piano chords are reminding to the second track of the album — Kenotaph. Cello and piano sing together until, after the chamber music duet, the drums approach from nowhere. I like that: Post Rock sends its regards and finally it starts.

LoveActually, there is nothing more to say, because this piece is exactly that.
Tom Addams contributes his voice here and lets us fly. Rhythmically, the piece appeals to me very much with its different time signatures in the harmony changes. That's exactly what I like very much - at first you don't know where the whole thing is supposed to go. But after some rounds then comes the melody in the cello and Tom Addam's emotionally involving voice and the whole thing just makes sense without any ifs and buts. I think that's the quintessence of the whole album for me.

Many thanks for listening with me to Mirage from Ben Lukas Boysen." — Anne Müller

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