Chaos with composure
Ben Shirken, New Yorker and artist behind Beshken, releases sophomore album Pantomime. The 11 tracks within the album serve as this mime’s internal dialogue projecting outward with plenty of spiraling synths, subdued vocals and accelerating drum-n-bass elements. The album is an alluring loop of “duality in motion” as Shirken puts it on Instagram. His 2019 debut album, Aisle of Palm, prefaced these features in a more mellow approach, but in Pantomime, he builds off this vulnerability and aims to disrupt it.
Dreamier tracks are paired at the beginning of the album such as “Melatonin,” an awakening intro of piano keys, and “Hourglass (Spinning Around).” This duo lullabies into the third track “Self Defense,” which employs rippling electronics with a treading clockwork-like beat. The lyrical hypnosis begins here and follows throughout.
“M.I.A.” serves as an elevating mid-point to the album. A mantra of escape, “I’m going without you…” is the relaying message. This release is kept in tempo with a matrix of soaring, lengthy synths alongside signature drum-n-bass sound. Following the median comes “The Ocean, El Diablo” which is similar in style to “Anti Heaven,” both featuring unique jazz percussion. Beshken’s undulating vocals sink deeper behind these vigorous instrumentals.
Fifth track, “Social Suicide” is a more upbeat, yet haunting tune. A story is told of anxieties around social exposure, “looking at your phone, without a soul, but you’re not alone…”, paired with plenty more synths and drums. The final track, “Under Your Skin,” begins with a slowly creeping ascension of instrumentals. This track then fades out to conclude the album, leaving a strong impression left truly under the listener’s skin.
Pantomime, a theme of “internal contradiction” as described by ForceField. Listeners can pick up on a vocal timbre similar to James Blake with a fusion of Machinedrum quickness. These quick beats and tender narratives come together as a reflective design of this mime, and result in a successful new release for this emerging artist.