Los Angeles-based producer / DJ William Benjamin Bensussen’s 2012 debut album under his Gaslamp Killer alias ‘Breakthrough’ saw him continuing to divide listeners with his eclectic and often unpredictable style, whilst offering what was easily his most ambitious work to date. Given the scope of that aforementioned album, it’s no surprise that Bensussen had something special in mind when approaching performing its tracks live. Recorded in a single take last November at L.A.’s Mayan Theatre, this latest collection on GLK’s own label captures Bensussen performing live with a 15 piece band comprised of some of that city’s most sought-after jazz musicians and Brainfeeder associate Computer Jay on keys. The fact that this album was apparently recorded in the aftermath of a life threatening accident by Bensussen also lends the atmosphere an extra level of poignancy.
As you’d expect, the employment of such a large ensemble means that the tracks here end up rendered with a gorgeously opulent level of detail, backed up by a fantastic recording and mixing job. After an eerily psychedelic intro section slowly builds up out of sampled muttered conversations, sudden laughs and a whirl of instrumentation, ‘Apparitions’ takes things off for a six minute wander that’s as much smoky film score as it is woozy hip hop-funk as melancholic strings swirl against slow loping drum beats and majestic jazz horns bleed out into the very edges of the mix alongside subtle guitar riffs.
‘Nissim’ meanwhile emerges from an intro of brooding flamenco-esque guitar and snare showers into a dusty swagger through clattering boom-bap drums and jangling, vaguely bluesy keys before buzzing sitar inflections assume centre stage, while elsewhere ‘In The Dark’ takes the ominous cinema of the original album track to new heights as spinechilling strings ascend against a rush of horns that evoke a sense of weary triumph. It’s with the 13 minute long pure space-out of ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ that this live set really explodes though, taking things out with a spectacular showcase of deft interplay between the stunning musicians pressed into service here. If you’re a GLK fan, it goes without saying that you need this album.