If you ignore his vowel-free stage name, it would appear that there is little to connect Ben Thomas to recent developments in electronic music. Thomas’s debut earlier this year on Rush Hour’s Direct Current sub-label and now this follow-up have nothing in common with mnml or the new school jack of the Chicago paeans. Thomas does appear to inhabit a different world, one populated by half-heard melodies and dreamy textures, as if the soul of Detroit techno were to be re-imagined by a Gothic novelist.
However on closer inspection it’s clear that Thomas does not live in a vacuum and is indeed in touch with current sounds. Despite his interest in the more ethereal end of techno’s mood spectrum, most of the tracks on 141 have a surprisingly modern(ist) feeling. “One Sea” for example, sounds like John Roberts pushed to the outer limits of abstraction, its dreamy chords underscored by the mournful pitter-patter of broken, fragile beats.
“We Are The Weather” meanwhile is a beautifully atmospheric piece, but is powered by a robust bass. “Inout” also shows that Thomas is deeply interested in both the recent past and the present as break beats halfway between drum’n’bass and techno tempos are fused with the kind of spooky techno melodies that Convextion specialises in. BNJMN has mapped out his own enclave in the techno continuum – to join him, just dial 141.