Preliminaries

by Ben Powell

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about

voted an Essential Acoustic Album of 2010 by Acoustic Guitar Magazine, USA.

"Preliminaries" introduces the exceptional talents of Ben Powell, a virtuoso of sensitivity and intelligence whose superb playing, compositions, and exquisite tone prove him to be a true heir to fingerstyle guitar giants Michael Hedges and Pierre Bensusan.

Powell's debut album features 12 original compositions that are highly melodic yet intricate, subtly stuffed with unexpected changes of key and meter, dronelike effects, hints of Django Reinhardt jazz, or of mid-Eastern modalities, as on the sublime "Reflections." His pieces are inspired by a sense of place, many in India and Tibet, and an aura of spirituality is palpable ("Bhagsu Road"; "Pashima").

One of the most beautiful offerings is "Nightwalking Monteverde," a moody introspective ode to a night walk in Rome that shimmers with deep feeling. The pieces range stylistically from the wistful and dreamy ("The Village"; "February") to the energetic and propulsive ("Subika"), its driving quality gained by repeated arpeggiated passages.

Powell doesn't indulge in many flashy displays, though he clearly could, as evidenced in his arrangement of "Theme for Jeeves and Wooster" (Anne Dudley) with its wickedly fast runs. Powell is more interested in communicating a coherent musical vision, and the result is a gorgeous meditation, at once ethereal and earthy.
© Celine Keating, Acoustic Guitar & Minor 7th, USA


Fans of Pierre Bensusan and Michael Hedges will find much to admire in the debut of this Bath-based acoustic wizard. Featuring a dozen originals and the welcome stylistic cuckoo in the nest of Anne Dudley's ragtimey theme from Jeeves and Wooster, this is an impressive statement of intent. The DADGAD tuning maintained throughout lends inevitable Celtic echoes, but with his fine, clean technique, Powell constantly searches for the rhythmic and melodic variation (occasionally veering into intricate, percussive, raga territory) that keeps the material fresh and successfully avoids the 'samey' trap the genre can often carry with it. The lovely 'Pashmina' and 'Nightwalking Monteverde' are both standouts, during which the focus is clearly on melody above technique, and it pays off beautifully.

Acoustic Magazine, UK

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released July 12, 2010

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Ben Powell Bath, UK

The editors of Acoustic Guitar USA voted Preliminaries an Essential Acoustic Album of 2010... which was nice!

“a very nice player”
Martin Taylor MBE

“Acoustic Wizard”
Acoustic Magazine, UK

“an enviable mastery of tone and technique”
Guitar Techniques, UK

“his effortless virtuosity places him in direct lineage from fingerstyle giants like Michael Hedges and Pierre Bensusan"
Acoustic Guitar USA
... more

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