"A moody exercise in restraint and excess; the composer's attention to space and atmosphere conveys as much emotional information as do the actual notes he plunks out... [w]hile it's easy to get lost in innovative chord progressions and dazzling finger work, Cosgrove's use of negative space and subtle, perhaps insignificant, details are just as striking. Replete with near-imperceptible embellishments and forward-thinking concepts, Salt is a majestic entry into the composer's catalog."
- Seven Days
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Physical CDs available at bencosgrove.com
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On "Salt," his first studio recording in three years, landscape-influenced composer/performer Ben Cosgrove pulls back from the lush orchestrations of 2014's "Field Studies" in favor of a stark, quiet, and graceful sound that relies heavily on his idiosyncratic piano work to explore landscapes of inconstancy and ambiguity.
“This is music about places where the land tends to come and go: marshes, rivers, tidal estuaries, salt flats, floodplains, frozen lakes, places where earthquakes happen,” Cosgrove explains. “I wrote this music during a time that was characterized by a lot of pain and confusion: everything often seemed to be all tumult and motion, and it wasn’t always obvious to me which way was up or down.”
As a result, he found himself composing music about places where that sense of unrest and instability was reflected in the landscape: “I took several simple little interrelated, shifting melodies and knocked them around a bit to try and explore this idea. Sometimes, it can feel as though everything is collapsing, nothing is still, and you can’t seem to plant your feet, but it can be useful in those moments to try and take comfort in that ambiguity, or just to remember that the ground moves, too.”
“Champlain,” the new record’s opening cut, considers the fragility of the surface of a vast, frozen lake. “The places this record goes after the first song are sort of calamitous and fraught,” says Cosgrove, “but this opening is more to establish an initial feeling of a growing awareness that you’re standing on shaky, impermanent ground, however solid it may seem or how beautiful it may be.”
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"A poetry of tones and turns and motion and play that transcends the gross signification of everyday language... Cosgrove’s music is about landscape, about place, about space. It reacts and responds and reflects and resonates in space. It creates and transforms space. This album, specifically, is about instability, uncertainty, liminality, disorientation. It’s about the unhinged feeling that comes from losing the solid ground on which one has comfortably and complicitly stood for too long, about the realization that the safety provided by such footholds is always illusory, and about learning to live with the shifting, floating impermanence that was there (and not there), enveloping us all along. It’s a break-up album. And it’s also a salve."
- Junction Magazine, June 13, 2017
- Sound of Boston, May 15, 2017
- Seven Days, August 9, 2017
- Red Line Roots, May 1, 2017
- WGDR - Music Notes, May 26, 2017