The Revelation According to Frank Benkho

Frank Benkho

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Gathered under the premise of improvisation using analog electronic instruments in real time, this collection of four pieces, specially prepared for clang, is a collection of experience accumulated during long sessions of learning and discovery. Picking up the techniques and restrictions of old school electronic music, as well as abandoning the use of modern music making software to generate and process sound, The Revelation According to Frank Benkho arises as a challenge of returning to the places of origin, to what is simple, to the fundamental emotion of creating music and enjoying what you hear.

The use of sequencers and analog synthesizers invariably transports us to the tranquility of the hypnotic and repetitive music of past decades; but it is in the free improvisation and haphazard overlapping of layers of sound, recorded in distinct moments, that takes us out of the linear mathematics of exact repetition. The absence of traditional rhythmic sources allows us to submerse ourselves without hurry nor pressure, into the melancholy atmospheres of these four moments of sound.

All compositions by Frank Benkho

Frank Benkho played Serge Modular, Korg MS-10, Moog Minitaur, Trogotronic TR-Ogre, Doepfer Dark Time, Cacophonetor II, 4MS panneur, OTO Biscuit Machine, Maestro Echoplex EP-3 tape delay, Pigtronic Echolution delay, Electro Harmonix Cathedral reverb, Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger

Produced by Mika Martini between March and October 2013 in Pueblo Nuevo Studios, Santiago, Chile

Mastered by Francisco Holzmann at Estudio Clio, Santiago, Chile
Laquer cut by Arnold Kasar, Berlin, Germany

Cover artwork and digital processing by Mika Martini
Cover photos by Pablo Flores

Frank Benkho is the alias of Chilean Hugo Espinosa Chellew. As a designer and training designer, Hugo Espinoza is also dedicated to music and appears under the moniker Mika Martini for the netlabel Pueblo Nuevo, which he co-founded in 2007. His music is composed of different voices and samples processed in real time. As Frank Benkho he embarks on a completely different approach on this first production released by the Danish Clang label, re-discovering and re-turning to old methods of electronic composition from old analog synthesizers, hence the title.
This return to the source is very perceptible, immediately noticeable from Frank Benkho’s first track on this LP. The sound is thoroughly elaborated as the Chilean avoids the too refined, too classical and recognizable sounds of these classic synthesizers. His compositions show a certain minimalism as these rudimentary machines did not allow for very long melodic sequences. His music is based on repetitive loops, arpeggios that evolve according to the applied effects. It is mostly a work on sound that we find on this album, yet sometimes with some very beautiful melodic suggestions.

The minimalist aspect is particularly apparent on Chapter 1 – The Puma’s Trumpets and its nasal waves on which various sonorities arise: swirling puffs, rhythmic loops and superimposed elements that gently underlines the beat. A heady opening that starts a bit of a head-spin. Regarding melodies we recommend the very beautiful Chapter 2 – The Witness with its filtered bass loops under a delicious and subtle melody of fluttering sounds. Again it is fairly repetitive but some filter action makes the melody move unceasingly.

The 70s colours inherent to these instrument have hitherto been quite discreet, but come to the fore on the heady Chapter 3 – Under the Sands of Pisagua, especially in a playful keyboard improvisation that veer towards prog-rock. As for the fast and delicately nasal loops of Chapter 4 – Removing TVs, we are taking on a psychedelic spiral down memory lane of German electronic kraut-rock.

A first and very successful outing of beautiful discoveries, likely to bring together lovers of fine-tuned minimalism, vintage sounds and psychedelic trips.

It would take days to give a full description of Frank Benkho; as it would take even more time to contemplate when the melody can become melodic. And still further would it take to know what that melody specifically requires for its own rhythms, given an overall rhythm. But all these questions can be wiped off with one stroke, in fact with the stroke of a single, well-known word even though its entire potential still is unknown: improvisation. A beautiful word because its meaning only is meaningful up to a certain point: the point when it becomes a discipline and, subsequently, memory. In short, improvised on a supporting foundation. Then listen to it until you learn it by heart; maybe write down its source and possibly its outcome. From this point it will no longer be improvisation, but a ‘theme’ (notated with all its embelishments, considerations and aggregated voices of melody, harmony and rhythm). Improvisation is short-lived: the test of genius in a window of time, in realtime. A mystery of musical phenomenology and yet so clear, natural and haunting, like many other prominent musical means. But more than others is it that one element that displays the artist’s inner flame (at the same time luminous and dark).

Frank Benkho is the solo project of Mika Martini, the founder of the record label Pueblo Nuevo and a researcher into exceptional audio sources with a musical vision and need to find something different. In other words, to dismiss through the front door what is no longer needed, so that something else may enter through the window.

The title already suggests the scope of Benkho: the revelation, the second of three steps in Western history (Creation, Revelation and Redemption), as summarised for example by the visionary Franz Rosenzweig. The path of Benkho is to return to the origin, returning to spontaneity, to the composition as a revelation to the ear (without any superstructure or conceptual underpinnings), with an improvisational approach that embraces a wide range of instruments and genres, fusing them into one strain of harmonic melodies that change shape, colour and context (resembling the trips of Pharoah Chromium or an early Leonid Lopatin confined to a struggle between analog and digital). The disc is divided into four chapters: 1. The Trumpets of the Puma 4:38 / 2. The Witness 6:49 / 3. Under the Sands of Pisagua 5:52 / 4. Removing Televisions 5:09, in which the mystical vision and ritualistic outcome with the last one showing in a Touareg fashion how music through the resilience of the performer may cover every aspect of spirituality in its various forms and traditions, all under the influence of hypnosis, contemplation and a listening devoid of judgments and preferences. To have in these difficult times someone who is able with his eyes and ears to unite elements that seem so different is much more than a relief, it is the hope of a revelation.

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