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Bent - Aerials


Review: Jack Foley

BENT, aka Nail Tolliday and Simon Mills, are probably better known for sample-based albums that are better suited to the dancefloors, so it makes a refreshing surprise to find that album number three changes the format somewhat radically.

Having dispensed, to a large extent, with the sampling, the duo have decided to concentrate on making music - so that songs were written, instead of tracks, and in places guitar chords became the starting points for the recordings.

The result is a magical experience which probably has to rate as the most pleasurable listening experience the Bent boys have produced to date.

What's more, they have chosen their collaborators well, as Steve Edwards, Sian from Kosheen, Rachel from Weekend Players and longstanding Bent cohort, Katty, all stamp their signature on the album in some way.

It all means that the 12 tracks of Aerials transmit a mesmerising beauty and laidback, feel-good quality that we probably didn't have any right to expect.

From the upbeat opening beats and guitars of Comin' Back, which provokes memories of chilled out Chemical Brothers, to the sweeping final track, The Waters Deep, this is a genuine treat for the ear-drums which doesn't skip a beat.

"We wanted to move on musically," explains Simon Mills, when talking about the album, "and working with musicians became more of an inspiration."

It shows. The silky smooth vocals of Katty, in particular, have seldom sounded better, enshrined by the rich beats and shimmering acoustic guitar work - some of which could easily pass for Zero 7 in style.

This is, indeed, the emotional journey that Bent had envisaged, as you cannot fail to be moved by some of the symphonies they have created.

At times deeply brooding, most notably when Sian Evans adds her deep vocals to proceedings (I Can't Believe It's Over), and at others wildly uplifting, Aerials marks something of a tour-de-force for Bent and one can only hope that this is the shape of things to come for them.

Not that some of the electronic beats and samples of earlier work, on The Everlasting Blink for instance, were bad, rather this feels much more satisfying, and as inspiring as the duo claim it was to make.

Other highlights include the haunting pianos of As You Fall, which could well move you to tears, the happy-go-lucky beats, claps and pianos of Silent Life (featuring Steve Edwards), and the 80s-tinged, retro-cool of the electronica-based instrumental, Exercise 4.

In short, it's a musical tour-de-force that's guaranteed to ease away the worries and everyday strains. Don't miss out.

Track listing:
1. Comin’ Back
2. Sunday 29th
3. I Can’t Believe It’s Over
4. As You Fall
5. Silent Life
6. Sing Me
7. On The Lake
8. Now I Must Remember
9. You Are The Oscillator
10. Sunday Boy
11. Exercise 4
12. The Waters Deep

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