Has anyone been as prolific as Ben Reynolds these days? I think not. This Brit has expanded his repetoire impressively over the past year and has produced an impressive string of releases on a number of great labels. "Earth & Space Magic" might be a perfect title for the dog & pony show Reynolds has going in as much as he must be involved in some kind black magic to be peddling so many quality pieces of music. Whatever mystics he's dabbling in, I don't care - as long as the music continues to flow through his otherwordly fingers.
Reynolds cover art has been particular impressive as of late (this release and it's sister release in 267 Lattajjjaa
, "Silver Songs or Ghost of a Cube"), and gives an honest insight into the music contained within. These psychedelic graphics are marked with precision and vivid coloration. Reynolds latest excursion is like an LSD trip gone right. These tracks exist in the space between the ethereal and hallucination, never quite settling in and choosing to float amongst the cosmic ether.
Over the course of his many, many releases, Reynolds has worn multiple masks. He has successfully tackled the essence of solo acoustic guitar work (ala Fahey) and more recently ventured into the underworld of methodical drones. "Earth & Space Magic" is a successful combination of both elements. On this album, they live and flourish side-by-side. It produces a richer listening experience.
Reynolds immerses himself in the sound worlds of spiritual drones throughout "Earth & Space Magic," but most notably on tracks like "Original Emptiness" and "Howlers." These are dense explorations that hint at something enormous. The former what I imagine it sounds like inside a star. High-frequency whirs interacting with barely-audible low-level hiss. There are voices flying within the murky seas, but the faces never quite reveal themselves. It's a haunted house of aural delight. "Howlers," on the other hand, is the terrestial counterpart of "Original Emptiness," made of acoustic drones that are distinctly of the earth. Fuzzy, heavily-treated recorder notes sweep across the proceedings like a howling wind that is hell-bent on destroying anything it can wrap its arms around. Reynolds keeps pulsing forward, though, searching out the brightest piece of land he can sink his teeth into. This is where the earth and space magic meet in perfect harmony.
"Earth & Space Magic" is an excellent introduction to Reynolds work, or a perfect continuation of his previous efforts, depending on if you're familiar with him or not. This album shows his various sides ("A Pit Meditation" is a great example of his solo acoustic compositions) and proves how competent he is in various areas. I would like to hear an entire album of acoustic-based stuff, I have to admit, though as long as Reynolds continues churning out quality release after quality release like this, it'll be hard to complain. Great stuff. 8/10 -- Brad Rose (8 July, 2005)