1.03.2014

2013: My Year In Music

   
MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2013 
(IN NO PARTICULAR HIERARCHY)

/// YOUTH LAGOON - WONDROUS BUGHOUSE
Let’s just get this out of the way first. I’ll confess that Youth Lagoon is a Boise-based outfit, so I’m sure there is some bias involved in my love for this album. Trevor Powers easily avoided any signs of a “sophomore slump” with Wondrous Bughouse. His previous album, The Year of Hibernation, was a quiet, inward album about the struggles of youth and transitioning to adulthood. Then, listeners are hit with a wide open, psychedelic funhouse in this 2013 creation. It was one of the most rewarding listens of the year for me. Though the lyrics still appear deeply personal, they speak to broader terms of the human experience. The occasional waltz and haunted merry-go-round tune keeps things really interesting on this beautifully strange trip.      

/// THUNDERCAT - APOCALYPSE
An intergalactic voyage in remembrance of a friend who died too young might be a fair summary of the funky journey that is Apocalypse. Thundercat is one of those rare felines that can jam on a mind-bending level without creating music that is only appreciated by the technically inclined. This cat brings jazz, R&B, soul, pop, rhythm & blues, disco, dubstep, etc… and then hits puree on the interstellar blender. It is a pseudo-spiritual experience that I had on repeat for much of 2013.    

/// BIBIO - SILVER WILKINSON

Stephen Wilkinson has brought another beautifully eclectic mix to the table. He jumps from heavily sampled dubstep, to quietly plucked folk ballads, to experimental electronica, to sunrise ambience and that’s just the first half of the album. Despite his impressive genre hopping, it is still distinctly Bibio and I love every minute of it. You Won’t Remember still gives me woozy chills. It makes me cry as I remember listening to it while riding my bike on a summer breeze through Boise’s historic North End.    

/// OLIVER WILDE - A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO UNNATURAL LIGHT YEARS
This album was a bit of an anti-depressant for me this year. Not that it is a cheery, pick-me-up of an album, quite the opposite. It is more like finding a friend to wallow in the sadness with. It put my head in a bit of a groggy haze filled with comforting fuzz and glitch. At the base layer it is a traditional singer-songwriter/folk album. However, it is so steeped in layers of samples, synths, beeps, bloops, and ticks that it removes itself from a simple exercise in genre. Almost every track on the record has sonic surprises that come in the form of electronic embellishments. I still don’t know if this is a “real” genre, but Oliver Wilde crafts exceptional folktronica.

/// THESE NEW PURITANS - FIELD OF REEDS
It is rare for me to find something so dark, bleak, and off-kilter to be incredibly inviting. Don’t get me wrong, These New Puritans are not creating contemporary Scott Walker-style music. It has melodies and sounds that create a fog of beauty that is a bit more accessible than Mr. Walker. However, it is still an eerie, acquired taste. Their use of more symphonic instruments and brooding atmosphere make a curious match to quiet vocals seemingly sung on a last breath. Field of Reeds is not a nightmare, but you’ll probably want to sleep with the nightlight on.  

/// WASHED OUT - PARACOSM
This album is summertime in a bottle. I’ve been pretty hit and miss with Ernest Greene’s previous 80’s-laden song craft. The introduction of more acoustic instrumentation and live drums brought a warm human touch that reeled me right into Paracosm. It is the sound of coasting with all windows down while summer winds fill the cabin of your vehicle. There is still the occasional journey into the soundtrack of the closing credits to Never Ending Story, but hey, that is still one of my favorite movies. 
 
/// KWES - ILP.
Experimental R&B, what a great idea. I don’t know if Kwes came up with it, but he sure knows how to execute it. It feels like Kwes is bringing something new to the table. It is not mind-blowing or revolutionary, it is a quiet, unusual sound that I couldn’t ignore in late 2013. Even the poetry of his lyrics feels experimental with it’s broad strokes of word association. The opening track Purplehands comes to mind, “Red and blue makes purple, crop circles bury the fruits of our love”.


/// MOUNT KIMBIE - COLD SPRING FAULT LESS YOUTH
Here is another group that pushed the looming “sophmore slump” to the side of the road. I feel Mount Kimbie refined, improved, and progressed their infectious sound on all fronts with this worthy second effort. They took the next natural step in bringing more vocals into the mix including some slack-jawed rhymes at the hands of Britain’s current wonder-kid King Krule. As all forms of electronica continue to be on the rise, it is groups like Mount Kimbie that keep things fresh for me among a sea of stale fish.    

/// MIDLAKE - ANTIPHON
This album felt like my personal soundtrack to the city of Olympia, WA which I now call home. Misty mountains filled with lakes, streams, and waterfalls; lantern walks in mossy, fern-covered woods; rain drops splashing on a bearded face; a domed political edifice glowing through the fog; this is what Antiphon has become to me. I had almost written Midlake off when I experienced a big disconnect with their previous effort, The Courage of Others. But the winds of change within the band and in my family’s life brought us back together again. A happy union under the gray skies of Olympia.      

/// CUUSHE - BUTTERFLY CASE
This is dream-pop at it’s most REM inducing state. This record lulled me into a reverb soaked trance so soft and subtle that 50 minutes pass by without measure. There are other forces at work in this album that I can’t ignore. For example, the amazing art by Yoko Kuno throughout the packaging or a creation story that drew me in immediately. Visions of a little Japanese woman recording quietly in a small Tokyo apartment so as not to disturb the neighbors definitely peaked my interest. Butterfly Case is a audio dose best taken while lying down.


::: || HONORABLE MENTIONS || :::
Local Natives - Hummingbird
Amazing production, atmosphere, and soaring falsettos made this album stand out from the crowd in 2013.

King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
This kid’s got swagger to spare and I look forward to seeing how his sound develops in the many years he has ahead of him. 

James Blake - Overgrown
He continues to foster a sound that is quite unique in a world where this is becoming a herculean task.

Rogue Wave - Nightingale Floors
Another solid record by one of my longtime favorites. The killer packaging with art by Andrew Schoultz doesn't hurt either.  

Shigeto - No Better Time Than Now
I’ve always enjoyed Shigeto, but after seeing him create my favorite performance of the entire 2013 Treefort Music Festival, he is on a new level for me. Much respect.
The Strokes - Comedown Machine

I feel like all media was encouraging me to NOT like this album, but I did, a lot.


::: || BEST LIVE PERFORMANCE OF 2013 || :::
James Blake at the Showbox (Sodo) - Seattle, WA
If there was Museum of Modern Music, then this performance would be the featured exhibition. 

7.13.2013

Peoples Art Of Portland Show

The Art of Ben Wilson  |  July 20th - August 11th, 2013
Peoples Art Of Portland 
700 SW 5th (3rd Floor) Suite 4005  |  Portland, OR 97204
Opening Reception: Saturday July 20th, 2013, 5-9pm
Gallery Hours: Thurs-Sun 12-6pm 

I'm honored to be having a show in my home away from home, Portland Oregon! It features a big mix of art prints, posters, originals, and more. Around 60 art prints and posters will be framed and ready to hang. Though I am the "featured artist" there will also be 100 plus artists participating in a "Carnival" themed show in the gallery as well. It sounds like it will be another killer show at The People's Art of Portland! I'd like to give a big thanks to the gallery curators Jason Brown and Chris Haberman for bringing it all together. Feel free to Check out more info at the Facebook Event page.

Peoples Art Of Portland  |  Entrance  |  Photo By: David Burbach
Peoples Art Of Portland  |  Exterior 
Peoples Art Of Portland  |  Interior 

5.03.2013

Commission + Creation Process + Animated Gif

Here is a commission piece I recently wrapped up for the Price family. It was inspired by time spent with their dog on the beautiful Rock Garden/Rock Island trails in the Boise Foothills. It is appropriately titled Rock Garden. Rock Island happens to be one of my favorite trails to mountain bike, so it really brought this piece home for me too. Thanks for a great project Price family!
I am asked about my painting process from time to time, so I thought I'd show a bit of the process via the animated gif below. I break down the process a little more in the images below the animated gif. The process for any given project is different, but I thought people might like to see one explained in more depth. 


Rock Garden | 8 Stage Process
Rock Garden | Concept Sketch
Rock Garden | Rough Sketch
Rock Garden | Value Sketch
Rock Garden | Initial Color Wash
Rock Garden | Low Lights
Rock Garden | Highlights & Richer Color
Rock Garden | Finishing Details/Final Product
Rock Garden | 24"x18" inches | Mixed Media on Panel | Price Family Commission

4.22.2013

New Art Prints Available

I have 3 new art prints available in the on-line store at www.benwilsonart.com. The first two are inspired by people that are "meant to be" and the third one is a bit of an attempt in the humor category. I created the original art for all three of these prints years ago, so I thought I'd finally make some inexpensive prints available. The prints & associated details are below.
Like A Right Hand & A Left... We Were Meant To Be | 7"x9" inches | Limited Edition of 50 | Signed & Numbered | High Quality Giclee Print | 80lb Textured Paper | $20.00 + Shipping | www.benwilsonart.com  
Like A Left Foot & A Right... We Were Meant To Be | 7"x9" inches | Limited Edition of 50 | Signed & Numbered | High Quality Giclee Print | 80lb Textured Paper | $20.00 + Shipping | www.benwilsonart.com 
Richard Wears His New Suit & Tie To Work | 7"x9" inches | Limited Edition of 50 | Signed & Numbered | High Quality Giclee Print | 80lb Textured Paper | $20.00 + Shipping | www.benwilsonart.com 

4.08.2013

The Future Of Idaho...?

I've recently been working with the Nieghborhood All-Stars & Compass Idaho to create conceptual illustrations of various Idaho neighborhoods circa 2040 AD! Compass Idaho is working hard to create a more sustainable future for Idaho by helping to develop neighborhoods that are more bike-friendly, walkable, mass transit accessible, environmentally conscious, self-sustaining, etc… It was an enjoyable change of pace to create these architectural-style concept images to help them in their efforts. It was also a pleasure because they are working towards ideals for our community that I really believe in. Whether it's more mass transit, bike lanes, community gardens, or green architecture… I hope to see many of these visions come to life in Idaho's near future. I'd like to thank Laura, Amy, Carl, and Toby for being such a great team for this important project. Look for these images and an entire book of detailed information to be officially published by Compass Idaho in 2014.
Concept Illustration | Downtown Urban Neighborhood | Compass Idaho
Concept Illustration | Downtown Rural Neighborhood | Compass Idaho
Concept Illustration | Core Neighborhood | Compass Idaho
Concept Illustration | Employment Center Neighborhood | Compass Idaho
Concept Illustration | Mixed-Use Neighborhood | Compass Idaho
Concept Illustration | Transit-Oriented Development Neighborhood | Compass Idaho
Concept Illustration | New Neighborhood | Compass Idaho

Fishdawg Productions Website

It is always a pleasure to work with Brandan Fisher and his versatile company Fishdawg Productions. I aided in the creation of a new website for the production company and I believe the official launch is underway soon, if not already? Check it out at www.fishdawgproductions.com. Below are some screen shots from the original proposal of the website design. 

Fishdawg Productions Website | Home Page | fishdawgproductions.com
Fishdawg Productions Website | Real Estate Films Page | fishdawgproductions.com
Fishdawg Productions Website | Rental Equipment Page | fishdawgproductions.com

The Great Snake Wrangler

I recently had the pleasure of creating another birthday piece for one of my nephews. His name is Carter and he lives in Idaho Falls with his favorite pet snake Drake. Below is a painting/relief sculpture commissioned by his parents capturing all things Carter. It is titled The Great Snake Wrangler.

The Great Snake Wrangler | Mixed Media on Wood Panels | 12"x22" inches | Commission
The Great Snake Wrangler | Relief Detail
The Great Snake Wrangler | Relief Detail
The Great Snake Wrangler | Detail