Ben McElroy: Soon This May All Be Sea (Self Released)

Bucolic bliss on Notts ambient / folk artist's atmospheric new LP

Released May 14th, 2020 / By Allan Judkins
Ben McElroy: Soon This May All Be Sea (Self Released) Ben McElroy is a multi-instrumental Nottingham based recording artist, originally hailing from the Wirral. With him rarely performing this kind of material live, it’s nothing short of a treat to be revelling in some new studio works. Last remembered outing from McElroy on Bearded was the five-tracker Bird-Stone which celebrated our feathered friends while floundering in some remarkable soundscapery in a well-honed acoustic-meets-analog kind of setting. The birds do come back - but in a far, far less Hitchcockian way than you would imagine from that statement.

Entering with a whooshing and a-whirring, the initial taste is synthetically sweet on the first half of the amalgamated couplet Fading Rhymes/Last Flight. There are more organic but equally delightful noises softly trickling into the piece in the second half, some acoustic guitar, an accordion, and a slick gentle drum rhythm. Throughout the album there is a general sense of calming but it’s not without its unnerving moments. The title track is an example of the latter and a personal highlight, wading in from feedback-tainted violin to the torso of a warming deep piano sound with almost eldritch post-rock effects adorning over.

With the exemption of the aforementioned opener split into two parts, the tracks are generally shorter in length this time around. That said, the cavernous sonic journey of All The Things That Once Were clocks in no longer or shorter than a whopping ten minutes. This number chills down to the bone with some kind of ghostly synth loop that keeps slowly departing and re-emerging into the mix. Hypnotic as it is, it gives a gist of the desolate feels of the past, before Outside The Bubble reassures with jaunty folk violin musings and the first taste of some vocal action. There is another short but sweet, Drake-esque voice appearance (that’s Nick, not the rapper) on the following and final track This Pond Is Life – possibly even lyrics? Not the most decipherable but even if so, its main purpose seems to be to act as an essential layer.

From the horse’s mouth on the press document regarding these pieces: “I don’t like to say too much about what the pieces are about as I would mainly like the listener to take what they feel from it. The ecological changes currently happening, and what the future may look like is never far from my thoughts”. It says it all; you get a massive vibe of the outdoors from start to finish, with a weirdly healthy fraction of the bleaker side of that aspect too. This record is most definitely best served up with a walk amongst nature… one would say you can tie it in with your hour of exercise, but seeing as that’s unlimited now, you can fit in the whole back catalogue, why not? Now get some goddamn fresh air and consume this marvellous display in question. 8/10