Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the parts which make up a whole can be every bit as powerful when left to their own devices. Yes, multiple heads are often better than one, but when one of these parts breaks out on its own, the results can actually be something quite special. Take local musician Ben Wright for example. As a longtime member of experimental rock trio D Numbers and a celebrated DJ in his own right, Wright has also produced music under the moniker Mi, and his newest release is about to hit Santa Fe like a ton of insanely talented musical bricks.
One on the Way is the culmination of two years worth of Wright’s time, as well as the birth of his son, Ellis. Known primarily for highly danceable tracks and mixes that would be more accurately described as techno, Wright’s new release represents a departure from his more readily identifiable material. One on the Way is beautifully atmospheric and, at times, ethereal. Electronic elements still prevail, but there is a whole hell of a lot of acoustic guitar found throughout.
“My other stuff was more ‘in the box’ so to speak, and usually made with computer sounds, but when I started writing the new songs, I realized, ‘Hey! I play guitar!’ so I bought the mics and got set up to make these acoustic sounds,” Wright says. “And even though I had written the songs in just a few months, it wound up taking so long because I was a little green when it comes to the engineering of acoustic music…I knew what I wanted to hear, but it took a long time to produce the exact sounds I wanted.”
The wait was well worth it, as the album is a brilliantly crafted hour and five minutes that showcases Wright’s chops not only as a phenomenal engineer of electronic soundscapes, but as a studied and masterful guitarist. There is a mellow aspect to the songs that makes the record fitting as either the focus of musical attention or as a soothing background experience. The more you listen and focus, the more that covert and seemingly unimportant moments begin to reveal themselves.
Perhaps it’s a momentary guitar flourish or an intricately sequenced beat, but the sheer amount of detail and effort put into One on the Way must not be underestimated, especially when we consider these are still comprehensible, fairly poppy songs.
It is the type of album one might place in their car to serve as soundtrack to a particularly leisurely road trip, or the type of album one might use to impress that special music snob in their life.
“It’s not a particularly hook-y album; there are no vocals and it sort of sits between aesthetics or styles that I would normally inhabit,” Wright tells SFR. “At the risk of sounding self-indulgent, it was very pleasing to me to get into these musical environments and to make each track its own little world and to say that, in the end, there is a lot going on, a lot to hear.”
Wright unleashes One on the Way at an upcoming event for local imprint Mesa Recordings (a label which Wright helped found) alongside DJs Erin E and Feathericci. And though the record will be available, Wright maintains that he will provide a live show full of high-energy dance jams.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of opportunity to perform solo for whatever reasons and I think that after two years or working on the album, I’m a little anxious to get into material that I’ve written a little more recently,” Wright says. “Some of the songs and sound from One on the Way have definitely evolved and you’ll probably hear bits and pieces of them, but to DJ a set using all the different tracks—like, 35 tracks—would be tricky to pull off right…and anyway, I want to get the party started.”
Mesa @ Molly’s featuring Mi CD Release
9 pm Saturday, Oct. 19. $5
Molly’s Kitchen & Lounge
1611 Calle Lorca