It comes as no surprise to find that besides releasing music in the form of albums (over yen in the last decade), Ben Eastman makes music for films and TV soundtracks. There is something in his music that is so cinematic, often epic, that the songs feel as if they should be playing as the credits roll on the film of the year, possibly with a group of criminals having beaten the corrupt system drive off with their ill-gotten gains into the sunset. Play Double Trouble and tell me that you wouldn’t watch that movie!
Badlands is an album which reminds us that instrumental music can be every bit as exciting as music made with lyrical content. In fact, I would go as far as to say that without the distraction of such direct and leading communication, the songs gain more appeal, become more mysterious, more evocative, more…well, just more.
There is the same drift and romance to the music that the likes of David Lynch always favoured in his musical accompaniment, though here, Ben’s riffs and runs are more confident, more strident, heavier and more impactful through their heft and heaviness. But that isn’t to say that they don’t conjure up the same images of heart-worn highways and battered landscapes, broken towns on the edge of civilization and the strange characters who call such places home—the titular Badlands in all their ragged glory.
Big Score seems to blend that Paris, Texas vibe with something more apocalyptic and brooding, The Outcast is drifting and coiled, spirals of riffing that wander like the tumbleweeds of this blasted realm and then there are songs such as True Reason and Dimensions, which build their sonic architecture with waves and washes of synth rather than the trademark guitar.
A fantastic album and the soundtrack to a movie not yet made, but perhaps in the future, producers will be brave enough to reverse engineer the music., take music like this as the starting point and then write the story to fit, let the sonics dictate the narrative. Now I wonder what that might sound like.