Ben Lukas Boysen delivers a poignant second album, which leaves a lasting impression.
Though ‘Spells’ is only the second album Ben Lukas Boysen has released under his given name, he has been making music for over ten years now. He began releasing albums in 2003 as HECQ, exploring everything from ambient to breakcore, and, under his own name, he creates deeply emotional pieces that continue to explore ambient while also adding flourishes of neo-classical.
Classically trained on guitar and piano since the age of seven, he merges programmed piano pieces with live instruments in a seamless manner. His music conjures up a sense of tranquility and it gradually coaxes you to open yourself up to explore its richness, with layers building upon one another and often creating sweeping climaxes. Regardless of how fleshed out the arrangements get at times, nothing here ever breaches the sense of fragility.
And it’s the more restrained moments that turn out to be some of the most poignant. ‘The Veil’ is a slow-burner that feels almost suspended in mid air, with its achingly sparse piano notes and Spanish-style guitar fluttering in the distance; on ‘Sleeper’s Theme,’ Lara Somogyi‘s plucked harp fills the gaps between Boysen‘s bold and dramatic piano; and ‘Golden Times I,’ features some especially melancholic cello courtesy of Anton Peisakhov‘s that’s utterly devastating in its beauty.
Even when he notches things up as he does on the especially moving ‘Nocturne 4, which starts off with nothing else but piano and haunting choral effects before low humming bass and a prog-influenced groove, courtesy of Achim Färber, enters the mix and pushes it to a properly dramatic finish; the music still retains its sense of restraint and grace. Where most ambient albums tend to aim mostly for the subconscious or position themselves quietly in the background, even the most subdued moments on ‘Spells’ have a way of leaving an impression. It’s an exquisite and heartrending collection that makes an impressive addition to Erased Tapes roster.