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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Benjamin Gate -- Untitled


When I DJ'd at KLSU, my show had several regular callers. One of my favorites was "Thundar," who often got off of work during the middle of my Sunday night show. Every week, Thundar called without fail, and every week, he requested "something good." It was always implied that what he meant was, "Play me some Benjamin Gate!"
The Benjamin Gate was a five-piece rock band from South Africa, featuring effects-heavy guitar work, driving bass and drums, and the ethereal vocals of Adrienne Liesching. Liesching went on to move to America to marry CCM star Jeremy Camp, which subsequently ended the group. It's a shame she couldn't have cloned herself so that the copy could continue to front this band because they were really on to something. Untitled is the...title of their first album, and while it suffers from a few minor flaws inherent in most debuts, it's quite a good listen.
The dominant feelings on Untitled are atmospheric and arty. The guitar work is fairly unconventional, taking cues from the noisier pages of U2's songbook. The marriage of music to vocals is excellent, as Liesching's voice is perfectly suited to this type of sound. The band hits perfection by their third track, "All Over Me," and doesn't quite hit it again...because perfect is the best, get it?
Forgive their appearance, they're South African, remember?...

The rest of the album is very solid, though gets to be a little bit samey, except for "Rush," which tries to do things the band shouldn't be attempting, including rapping. Maybe it's better they stuck to their signature sound throughout, though the reverb-heavy piano ballad, penultimate track, "Hands," is pretty good stuff, and shows directions the band could have perhaps further explored if they'd made it a few more years. They didn't, though, so for now we have only two complete Benjamin Gate albums, though their debut stands as a great slice of confident, arty, optimistic pre-9/11 rock.

2001 Forefront Records
1. How Long 3:35
2. Scream 4:28
3. All Over Me 4:10
4. Heaven 3:54
5. Lay It Down 3:19
6. Nightglow 4:10
7. Blow My Mind 2:48
8. Halo 3:35
9. Rush 5:35
10. Secret 4:37
11. Hands 4:18
12. Live Out Loud 6:37

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