Back in 2009 the excellent Audio Antihero label first up teamed up with the intriguing musical mind of Benjamin Shaw, releasing the, “burned out post-folk” stylings of the I Got The Pox The Pox Is What I Got. It marked the start of a beautiful musical friendship, as label and artist grew together over the course of a number of albums, sometimes weird and experimental, sometime accessible and acclaimed, always unmistakably Benjamin Shaw. Marking a decade of collaboration, Audio Antihero have recently released Exciting Opportunities: A Collection of Singles and Sadness, a remastered compilation of material spanning the entirety of Benjamin Shaw’s Audio Antihero catalogue.
Benjamin Shaw’s music has always been a balancing act between love and hatred; the former generally saved for others, the latter often directed to himself. Benjamin seems to constantly grapple with his mixed desires, as he puts it, “trying to be loved and seeking to be ignored”. That dichotomy is present in his musical exploration as much as his lyricism, at one moment he’s crafting perfect downbeat pop songs like, PUSH IT DOWN, the next taking commercial dive bombs, like the weird and wonderful noises of Terrible Feelings! or the simultaneously epic and minimal, Somewhere Over The M6. As with any collection, it’s intriguing to see where Benjamin Shaw’s musical journey has taken him, to see what has changed, and equally intriguingly, what has stayed the same; the music shifts, the man making it stays the same.
As Benjamin shares the finest moments of his four album career to date, he’s made us a mixtape that looks back on the tracks that have influenced him along the way, and how much his style has changed (and simultaneously remained identical). The mix features the likes of The Delgados, Hefner and Mount Eerie.
1. Bright Eyes – June on the West Coast
It’s been kinda fun looking back on what I was listening to at each part of my Recording Artist Career. I’ve ripped off so many artists and albums, but these are the main ones along the way. I was super into Bright Eyes around the mid 2000s. So much so, when I started a Last.fm account and synced my ipod for the first time, my Bright Eyes numbers were so overwhelming I had to delete everything and rethink some things.
2. Hefner – Good Fruit
I’d long been into Hefner since a young’n up in the north of England, but there was something special about living in London and listening to this album now with first hand knowledge of all the references – shitty bedsits in Holloway, soul-crushing jobs, daily heartbreaking chaos, and all the other shitty London things that I now miss.
3. Neil Young – Barstool Blues
Neil is the GOAT. I never really played that many cover songs – I can barely play my own songs, nevermind anyone else’s – but this was one we played as a band this one time and it was the greatest 3 minutes of my life.
4. The Delgados – The Past That Suits You Best
I loved the production on this record. I love all Dave Fridmann’s work, but this felt like the pinnacle of what I was going for around 2011. I absolutely did not reach it, but the use of extreme stereo fields and general weirdness is still something that inspires me now.
5. Fennesz – Caecilia
I was really into Fennesz for a while back there. The soft glitchy textures really appealed to me, and I definitely stole lots of ideas as the music I was making became noisier and more and more unlistenable. Fennesz is somehow also quite emotional, and I’m sucker for anything that can even slightly open my cold british heart.
6. Broadcast – Colour Me In
Oh man, I could listen to Broadcast forever. Such inventive ideas and arrangements, the production is always moving under your feet, and to top it all off the songs are stupidly beautiful. Absolutely inspiring always. RIP Trish.
7. Mount Eerie – Through the Trees
Yep, I went through a Mount Eerie stage back there too. Give me all your sad music. I need all your emotions for I have none! It always felt like The Microphones had been invented just for me, yet for a long time I couldn’t listen to it, because it was too good. Much better than anything I could do, so it killed me. How is one person this good at things? Mount Eerie felt different though, more comforting, like a warm duvet. Love ya Phil.
8. Four Tet – Planet
People often said that I was all over the place genre-wise, which is probably quite annoying, but it always felt like a natural progression to me. I know I have a short attention span, but I think I just get really into things or certain artists or sounds and I want to just want to drop everything and get lost. Anyway, droney beats seems to be where I am now. Four Tet is the best at it.
Exciting Opportunities: A Collection of Singles and Sadness is out now via Audio Antihero. Click HERE for more information on Benjamin Shaw.
Exciting Opportunities is released ahead of Benjamin’s first live show in over five years as he heads to Krems, Austria for Donaufestival 2019 (April 26th – May 5th).