We’ve come to know Ben Shemie as one of the founding members of art rockers Suuns, one of the most gripping, intoxicating live acts of the past ten years. Today, Shemie has announced solo work Desiderata, which will hit shelves via Joyful Noise and Backward Music on July 15th. Its first single “The Eye” is somewhat reminiscent of SUUNS Felt LP’s inquisitive, lo-fi recording methods.
The difference being that Shemie has the other leg planted into something more ambitious and cinematic, enlisting the Molinari String Quartet to create alluring sonic juxtapositions. “The Eye” marries a strange, eerie synthesis of tape sounds and organic string instrumentation, carried by a blotchy midtempo beat that sounds as if discarded from a demo for Tears For Fears’ “Shout”.
With Suuns, Shemie often hinted to an interest in the inherent chaos and unknowability of the cosmos and on Desiderata – the Latin terminology for “from the stars” – he seems keen on exploring that further through a sonic lens. A part of “The Eye” seems to be stuck in an endless loop, where another element seems to branch out like a vine, using the overarching arrangement almost to toy with time and space itself.
Taking inspiration from sources such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, and Neuromancer, Shemie equates his transfixed gaze towards ‘the beyond’ to his own rapidly-expanding skills as a composer, working under the wings of acclaimed composer Ana Sokolovic.
“It’s more composition than experimentation,” Shemie says of Desiderata. “The band is incredible and it mixes some contemporary chamber string writing, with some improvisation and feedback. I want to write severe ‘serious’ contemporary music, but I can only go so far before I need to break out into song, so it’s partly pop, and also pretty radical at times.”