On Gideon Bensen’s debut solo EP “Cold Cold Heart,” Bensen has drawn up a veritable treasure map for music fans who grew up obsessing over their favourite albums and artists. Boasting intense, deep arrangements that come armed to the teeth with pulsing electronics, bacchanalian horns and feverish backing vocals, it’s a celebration of musical gusto that draws a squiggly line from Lou Reed to Talking Heads, punk to new wave and never runs out of ink.
Creatively driven since he was a teenager, Bensen is someone who writes music compulsively. “This EP has just been about stealing time to do it,” he says: “in between tours, in hotel rooms, studios in the city, wherever I could.” He’d send ideas to long time confidant and renowned producer Tony Buchen (Mansionair, Montaigne) and together they’d start piecing together the fragments of what was going on inside his head.
“I didn’t want it to sound like myself,” he says. “That was one of the things I was really pushing for. I wanted to try new things because I didn’t know what would happen, and that was really exciting to me.” That’s most apparent on the industrial ‘80s thrust of ‘Talk Talk’, which shoves Bensen’s level of instrumentation right to the edge of the sonic cliff. “You just want to push a boundary, see what you’re capable of doing,”
Working on his own project has also allowed Bensen to fully embrace his unconventional vocal tone, especially on the blistering ‘Cold Cold Heart’. A powerful piece of shimmering pop, it ramps up to an exuberant chorus that sees Bensen leading his charges through a muscular disco groove.
Bensen assembled the songs quickly in an effort to minimise editing. Despite having a star-studded lineup of musicians, including Buchen, Montaigne, Megan Washington on backing vocals, The Preatures’ Jack Moffitt on guitar and Carlos Adura on drums, not to mention the mastering power of Leon Zervos (Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan), he insists that the entire project came together ad-hoc in a bid to keep the songs fresh. “You lose the naivety in a track if you overwork it,” he explains. “We’ve kept a lot of stuff from demos in there, because that’s where the energy is. We laid it down, turned up loud and didn’t manicure it too much.”
The result is a suite of songs that sound like nothing Bensen has ever done with his previous band The Preatures, but also sound unmistakeably like him. His is a unique voice, both musically and lyrically in Australian alternative music.