Quotes: metaculous and magical in its production. Mark Phillips / He combines up-tempo club beats with elastic sub layers of jazz vocals and synths. Accessible and very innovative. A prolific, highly progressive masterpiece. DanYdan
Info: Welcome to the debut offering from Ben Mono. Welcome to a world of cut-up sounds and innovative broken beat bringing together Blade-Runner-esque melodies and socially aware lyrics. Welcome to Ben Mono aka Paul Beller, aged 27, hailing from Munich, Germany. Ben doesn’t like Hollywood movies “because everything is so perfect and you’re not involved in the story.” He’d rather watch Dogma-style movies filmed with a hand-held camera creating a very real, very dense atmosphere. And it is this mind set that is reflected in his body of work. A self-taught drummer, keyboard and bass player Ben Mono started going out to Into Somethin’ club nights at the age of 16 and his friends were involved in the early Compost releases. By age 23 he had released two 12 inches under the monniker of “Force & Paul” on Compost Records (CPT 036, 053), tunes that earned him a reputation as a breakbeat sharpshooter and made magazines like the British I-D shout out: “Irresistable!”. He soon progressed working with a wide range of local and regional people releasing music on labels such as Spinning Wheel (Space Clique, Druckwelle, Sonic Surfer) and Sonar Kollektiv (Space Clique remix for Micatone). He also studied bass at the Conservatorium of Music in Munich, and has been involved in creating various professional movie soundtracks. And the motivation for this. “I’m trying not to cocoon myself too much. People pass by my studio every day, at least one person per day. The atmosphere changes all the time.” An atmosphere that indeed could be described as open source. Ben Mono is a great fan of the internet as way to exchange sonically ideas and software plug-ins. “In my case, my daily work of updating is based on the internet.”
With his debut solo album now out on Compost this talented German producer will without a doubt open up new international interactions. Interactions that are supported by his love to travel and his attraction to people in urban environments such as London or Berlin: “The longer I travel, the more it becomes obvious that I’m really addicted to bigger, intense cities. It doesn’t matter that much whether they are in the mountains or at the seaside. The most important thing is that there is a vibration.” Coupled with recent influences such as Bugz In The Attic and Seiji as well as Jazzanova, this urban vibration is clearly illustrated in his work. “I mean, my music itself is so honest”, he says, “it’s like a mirror.” So what does his music actually sound like. “It is the next step towards a new stylistic direction, towards combining vocals with clubby tracks and organic parts with synthetic parts.” It is a step towards a balanced production of broken beat with funky, warm vocals. On his prolific debut album he has worked with highly praised female singers such as Marzenka and Bajka, which proved to be a highly rewarding task: “A singer means there’s somebody who’s really expressive. It might take some time, but when they find a way to contribute their vocals to the song, they are creating their own patterns.” And how well the time was spent! Bajka, for instance, who already has received accolades from around the world for her appearance on Beanfield’s “The Season” again reaches new expressive highs on Ben Mono’s release.
Ben Mono as an artist generally doesn’t differentiate between musicians and DJs. Rather he sees himself as a union of instrument player, sound engineer and DJ, aiming only to sound original and fresh. “I always looked up to people who sounded new. I really like when people do their own thing, be it rock, hip hop, r’n'b, classic music, techno or whatever. When you can really hear from the first bar who’s behind this song. And I don’t like music which is too complex just for the sake of complexity.” Having said that, his dense, cut-up, soundtrack-like production work seems to be of an even higher standard: “When I started out making music vocal parts were too expressive to me, too artificial. Now I try to have space in my music, to have the vocals in front, and still offer an amalgamation of broken beat and vocals. It’s just a question of cleaning up the track as far as textures and frequencies go.” With remixes by the likes of Dharma One, Landslide and John Tejada Munich’s very own Ben Mono is getting ready to go international, yet he stays down-to-earth. He is a DJ, playing in lo-fi venues as well as in front of hundreds of people. He is producer helping out everyone: “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a record contract or not.” And he is a wanderer searching for urban resistance: “There’s actually a relationship between my t-shirts and the music I make. I don’t want to make music which you can define, music you can label. You’ll meet me at the second hand store rather than in a skate wear shop.”