Multitudes 12" LP (w/ free download) 2014


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The Many Uses of Multitudes
By Rhonda Jones

Oh the madness and irony of love! Oh the ominous fun! Listening to Andrew Benjamin’s Hellblinki projects is like suddenly realizing the comfortable old path has disappeared from your feet while you were busy daydreaming, then finding yourself surrounded by monsters too terrifying to imagine...who invite you to the most amazing party of your life. It’s like Where the Wild Things Are mixed with Mardi Gras. Just let the sounds of Multitudes tickle your ears and you’ll see. The album works artfully as a whole, and can easily be used as a background soundtrack for your weekend housecleaning. It will make you happy enough to dance with the vacuum cleaner while singing, “I could never be in love with you...I will always be in love with you!” Expect exuberant drums and horns and the ethereal vocal power of a modern-day Siren. I’m convinced that Benjamin’s partners in musical mischief are actually magical beings from another reality. If you try to resist the album’s insistence that you move, you will wind up chair-dancing. So be warned. Now the main man himself has always had a good, solid voice that has proven flexible enough to use for any genre he chooses. He could do anything with it—so of course, he chooses to do everything with it. “Never” features an almost falsetto version as though he were channeling the ghost of ‘60’s ukulele-plucking icon Tiny Tim, as portrayed by Johnny Depp, chasing butterflies through an industrial wasteland. It’s nutty and irresistible and just a little wrong. Other tracks suggest the more rugged, sensual quality of a Tom Waits lullaby. As a result, the CD also works as a “set the mood” piece if you feel like turning out the lights and getting out the lava lamp for a little spooky fun while smoking your cigar or whatever. The transitions between tracks are jarring enough to wake you up, but they are real transitions that lead logically from one track to another. They won’t send you to your WTF place. But Hellblinki fans aren’t the types to stop at mere surface enjoyment. They know it’s a good idea to settle in for a deep listen with the liner notes, because each track is bursting with the activity of a world of its own, like Seuss’ little Whos on a speck of dust. Remember that charming little refrain you’re going to sing-along while you vacuum? Part of it is from a track called “Never,” which is about that maddening thing we’ve all been through—meeting the perfect girl or guy, who just doesn’t do it for us. Its companion track, “Always,” is about the opposite maddening situation we go through even more—being totally addicted to someone who is wrong for us in every way. Listeners who explore the Multitudes lyrics will find evocative imagery like, “I covered you up like a locust swarm,” and, “Danger, with the flame on” (which you will also find yourself humming after a listen or two). They will also find mini-movies in song form with the tracks, “Bodies” and “No Home.” “No Home” is a catchy little piece about someone breaking down by the road with a body in the trunk, and could easily feature in the opening sequence of a Quentin Tarantino flick. “Sleep Now” tenderly evokes the terror of losing the game in a world gone mad. However, Multitudes is about more than just a bit of spooky fun. If we listen closely, it can remind us to enjoy what is there to be enjoyed, to embrace the situations we find ourselves in. There is no perfect moment around the corner, just this one, dragging along its bag of mixed emotions. If we must journey through the shadows, we can dance while we’re there, if we just remember to stay open to the life that shows itself to us. In fact, the last track is called “Open,” and it leaves the listener with a message of hope. “Look here with me,” the lyrics say. “This map shows the way to that bright, shining place at the end of our road, trapped in the folds and the tears.” Life’s joy is always there, it seems to say, if you’re up for the adventure. There are treasures to be found in the dark.

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