Wednesday 17 April 2024

'Dissensation' by Benjamin Samuels

'Dissensation' marks the debut album release from Sydney-based saxophonist Benjamin Samuels whose varied and eclectic new project serves as a scintillating introduction to this emerging new artist.

Samuels firmly asserts himself amongst a really fascinating crop of Australian musicians keen to present inspired and broad perspectives to jazz.  Artists like Godtet, Horatio Luna and David Versace are becoming renown for their effortless ability to regard jazz as a lawless entity, free to be adapted and representative of contemporary styles and trends.  

As a seasoned performer, Samuels regards the genre in the same loving context, creating a record in 'Dissensation' that thrives off of its inspirations and influences.  Having performed and toured alongside the dynamic off-beat electronica of Grouch in Dub, the tribal drum'n'bass of Seb Taylor and the global musical perspectives of Balkan Bump, Samuels has clearly relished in these experiences and fuses them all, along with so much more, into 'Dissensation' - his own perfect vision of contemporary jazz.

With a busy collaborative and touring schedule, ironically, it was being confined to his own four walls during the worldwide pandemic that would ultimately bring 'Dissensation' to joyous life.  With live performances having come to a screeching halt and no studio sessions allowed, the time afforded to Samuels became an unexpected gift prompting focus on music that would go on to comprise his debut solo outing, introducing him as an artist in his own right.

While the music absolutely serves as a celebration of Samuels' fandom and musical inspirations, there are certain tracks that do tether the music to the difficult circumstances of its genesis.  While the time afforded to many could often have been seen as a luxury, it still came amidst a time of loneliness, anxiety and panic as the global society tried to adjust to the new normal.

With a selection of leading Australian musicians enlisted for the sessions, 'Dissensation' benefits from a long list of brilliant performances from artists including trumpeter Fabian Acuna, pianist Danny G Felix, bassist Ralph Marshall, percussionist Dominic Kirk and drummer Max Valletnine, who perform incredibly across the album with scene-stealing moments coming in the form of the afrobeat-driven 'Gb's Groove', the synthy electronics of 'Parabola' or the album's bursting-with-energy lead single, 'Crazy DNA'.  The vibrant and engaging single is bolstered by the personality-driven guest verse from rapper BLANK SPACE who really manages to shine during the song's closing moments.

With 'Dissensation' very much serving as Benjamin Samuels' statement of intent for the genre, his musical path may not have come in the way he would have expected but, regardless, he does now find himself under the warm lights of centre stage.  And it suits him.  Having delivered such an assured and confident record, Samuels finds himself in good company amidst Australia's elite.

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