“The Weeknd Producer Goes Solo” can be a pleasant headline for Benny Bock’s newest album. The Los Angeles keyboardist and composer wrote and produced the Daybreak FM standout “Right here We Go … Once more” with The Seaside Boys’ Bruce Johnston and a handful of songwriting professionals. Bock’s melodic prime line may have been lifted off any traditional Motown file and is extensive sufficient to maintain each Seaside Boy cooing and a Tyler, the Creator verse. To explain his synths as “silky” is a testomony to their consolation and high quality, not some low-cost shorthand for ’70s R&B. Daybreak FM is a tragic pay attention, however Bock helps heighten it to one thing timeless. Nonetheless, Bock’s solo debut, the ambient jazz-leaning instrumental cycle Vanishing Act, sounds little like The Weeknd. Vanishing Act will not be a playful file. It’s a sobering, usually surreal movie reel of fleeting pleasure, made by a expertise whose solely agenda is to seize the sounds in his head, be they jazz or not. For individuals who don’t comply with ambient jazz, Vanishing Act will really feel like a revelation.
To make the album, Bock teamed up with Pete Min, the tremendous engineer who’s just lately labored with Orville Peck, Diana Ross, and The Strokes. Vanishing Act started as a collection of improvised classes below Min’s path; there’s a slickness right here similar to the final Strokes file. That slickness–and most of Bock’s tips–will be heard on Vanishing Act’s opening pair of tracks. Named after jazz pianist Erwin Helfer, considered one of Bock’s first music lecturers, opener “Erwins Backyard” is jazz at its most classical and acquainted. A deceivingly quaint piano line–performed on a kind of grand pianos that you just’ve seen in each resort bar lounge–quickly offers approach to weeping strings that act like a dancing shadow pushing the piano into unknown territory. The next monitor, “Dynamo,” flips the swap. A sudden and synthetic perpetual beat now steers the keys. Bock then takes us on a gentle jog all through that shadow’s glowing darkness, with gentle simply peeking outdoors our attain. On first pay attention, one may chortle at these songs that really feel like they had been commissioned to soundtrack a Blade Runner spinoff for Disney+. (“However don’t make it so unhappy,” you may hear an government say.) Upon additional listening although, the heat of those compositions appears like an achievement.
The remainder of Vanishing Act repeats this sample: major-key feels swimming all through a minor-key environment. There’s a case of diminishing returns because the LP loses its factor of shock; nothing right here sounds as memorable as these opening moments, however the remainder of Vanishing Act not often bores. In truth, it’s enjoyable to consider these ten compositions not a lot by their spectacular sound palettes however by the pictures they evoke. The bass within the title monitor feels prefer it’s making an attempt to punch water till it encounters an alien laser beam. “Eight Under Zero” has gleaming pedal metal courtesy of Wealthy Hinman that evokes another universe during which Stevie Surprise went by means of an area cowboy part. The funeral-appropriate “Strong Air” feels just like the tune The Weeknd wished to play through the finish credit of Uncut Gems. And so forth.