Benjamin Shaw – Goodbye Cagoule World (2014)

Less of an EP or album, and more of an overall sound-scape of a tortured and bitter-sweet soul, ‘Goodbye Cagoule World’ is possibly Benjamin Shaw’s most daring outing thus far and makes for an overtly moving experience. At once both laughable and lamentable, this output is a wondrous sensation that one can’t help but enjoy. The emotions felt when listening to Shaw’s world-weary delivery are visceral and intense in all the right ways, leaving the audience with an oddly pleasant yet empty feeling in their collective stomach.

The overall sound is not dissimilar to Eels, John Grant with other dark-indie influences mixed up into the delicious concoction of depression, heartache and joyous reverence at the scope of human emotion.

Relying on his darkly funny lyrics, samples of obscure public service announcements and electronic sounds of all shapes and size, Shaw utilises an immense range of sounds in order to create the desired effect upon the listener. This is deftly achieved, especially given that the entire album works as a concept soundboard, as opposed to individual bite-sized tracks so often felt in today’s MP3, download driven society. ‘Goodbye Cagoule World’ is a welcome return to listening to entire albums and would work remarkably well as a vinyl release.

At only 29 minutes, this feels slightly disappointing in that it’s so short. An entire album would have been welcome and one can only hope that Shaw has more of the same in him to add to the ‘Cagoule’ experience. Startlingly enough, his use of sound effect and instrumentation never seems to grow old, as so many computer-reliant tracks tend to these days. Shaw seems to be setting himself apart from the crowd as an utter maestro of the modern sound without making his attempts seem desperate or cloying. One can’t help but think that, regardless of influence or time-frame, Shaw is quintessentially himself. The rhythms of ‘Cagoule World’ lead to an intrinsically pleasant experience for the listener; you can allow it to wash over you in a wave of pure, uninterrupted sound.

Indeed, this could easily be enjoyed in the darkness of one’s living room at 3 in the morning, when we all get those urges to just enjoy a painfully beautiful piece of music. Benjamin Shaw is, most definitely, one to watch. Especially if, like me, you enjoy something entirely new, while paying respects to musical tropes of the past.

This EP has quickly become an obsession for me, and those around me will be hearing it for a long time to come. Shaw is on the rise and let’s hope he never says goodbye to our cagoule world.

 

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