The Gaslamp Killer On Unknown Sundays

I am not the foremost authority on the DJ category of music, and with that being said…I certainly wouldn’t be for any underground genre musician within this musical category (that has not changed since this article was written, but I certainly am attempting to enlist those that might be more capable of broaching this subject — Mr. Jeff DeYoung, potential panelist). It takes a very long time for me to warm up to the often basic scramble of noise selected to make an entire record. I often wonder if it sometimes as complex and improved as Jazz, or as carefully calculated as a symphonic piece. There are those in the genres that are very accessible and easier to wrap your ears around. There are arrangements with spasms and shifts of tempo made to shock and awe the listener at nearly every turn, which have their own fantastic–yet brief–moments. Then there are the risk takers and just full on “out there” artists, requiring experience (or tolerance) of time to give give it all a chance– come to an appreciation of the musical work involved.

I have come to terms with my need to delve more into this diverse field of musicianship. I have promised myself that there have been missed opportunities to take pleasure and inspiration from their skillful concoctions. But mostly, I have come to the conclusion after five choices, that the wickedest of names give me the most hope that there is greatness within the unknown sampling, computer-turn table musical deliverance. Just please, no more PacMan-ish, Galga on speed, or keyboard laser beaming backgrounds, all right?! Get my attention the right way…with sound quality and creative, meaningful arrangements.

So, I land today at an artist with a killer name, The Gaslamp Killer to be exact. Hoping that Instrumentalepathy might be a great way to dive into the underground, I plunged into it for 50 minutes, and I was actually finding myself in rapture by the diabolical production quality and sound orchestration that William Benjamin Bensussen weaved. Sure there’s the Doctor Who-vian sound effects that are like nails on a hippie chalkboard, but the dominant music has continual classical, electronica, string and world instrumentation that really resonates well with the tempo changes and psycho-delic pitch.

This sophomore recording does not reflect his debut, Breakthrough, which has much more of the humdrum electronic noises (in my opinion) that are distracting. It still, though, had the elements and composition talent that brings the “hip” in its hip/hop side, as well as an intensity of string arrangements.

There are many singles and collaborations that you can discover, too, as I did, but I’ll leave those for your musical journey if you so chose to rave on down to Gaslamp (a district in San Diego California, where he was known for his unique sets that stuttered the music vibe of clubs). Ahead of his time for the Gaslamp region, or ahead of his time or not for the musical multiverse is for you to decide, but Mr. Bensussen is worth a deeper listen beyond the DJ stereotype. There’s a lot more under his “underground” genre than I was expecting.

 

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

The Gaslamp Killer Albums in my collection: Instrumentalepathy (2016)

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on September 18, 2016, and I was definitely going on a journey with the artist.  Since then, until this opportunity to go back into the old archives of articles from the old website, I had not played anything from The Gaslamp Killer since then, as there was very little activity or reminders coming to me from my services.  This is what can happen in the music multiverse.  Now with the placement of this Unknown Sunday article, I was able to not only track one album, Heart Math from 2020, and one EP, Break Stuff from 2019, I also got to check out Legna [pictured above] which is a collaborative album with the Heliocentrics (whom I adore, and have been in my top albums before in prior years).  Legna is a solid and unique album filled with all kinds of intricut electronica that’s menacing, haunting, memorable, and emotional.  You definitely should check it out, as it’s definitely a best of this year in its genre, and it’s definitely in consideration for albums of this year!  His website isn’t quite ready, I guess, but you can certainly listen to the albums.   – Mark Kuligowski  [October 15, 2023]

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