Original album description from 2004:
Debut album for Brisbane based digital-jazz artist Ens [pron. 'enz']. With recent tracks on 'Evolutionary Vibes 5' and Tim Ritchie's 'Sound Quality 2', plus various remixes doing the rounds and bending ears - producer Ben Fairweather follows up with a longplayer that both dazzles and lulls; dark and brooding, uplifting and hypnotic.
From the manic rhythm rush of 'All In The Mood' (where drummer Billy Cobham meets his cyber double) to the mesmerising beauty of surf-daybreak soundtrack 'Tranquilaise', Ens' dexterous programming is evident, as is his unique sense of melodic juxtaposition. Featuring interstate guests Sloth [ex-Meta Bass 'n' Breath] and Andrew Day [Nightswimmer/Sound Movement] plus vocalists Inga Liljeström [Gerling/Friendly/Baggsmen] and Georgie Zuzak, Ens has recontextualised his long distance collaborators, manipulating their offerings in an exclusively digital domain.
The resulting output is an album of moodswings that somehow manages to also sound organic and fluid. Somewhere between the freeform hypnosis of perpetually unwinding jazz and the brooding intent of downbeat electronics. As velvet double bass strings slap against chrome plated electronics and brushed rhythms, 'Warp and Weft' glistens from beginning to end with hints of both the Ninja and Warp labels.
Original Reviews from 2004:
"Slinky noir. That pretty much encompasses
the debut album by Brisbane electro-dabbler Ben Fairweather aka Ens. Alluding to the grace and soulful structure of Massive Attack's "Blue Lines" and the musicality of fellow Groovescooter label folk Don Meers and amphibian, Ens creates a space filled with smooth darkened electronica drywalled by a collage of mostly elegant jazz elements played both by hired hands and Fairweather himself, resulting in what is ostensibly a rather attractive picture. For me, the highlight here is the brooding ninth track Introvertuoso which, for all its style and know how, appears to be rather a complex musical production; with swirling loops, horns a pure, and much of that dexterous subliminality that fills Warp and Weft wafting throughout its walls."
[Sadness In The Sky Zine]
ALBUM OF THE WEEK - The Brag
"This local release of slowly moving beats
and jazz influenced melodic lines is truly outstanding. Ens creates such an atmospheric wash that the thick layers of sound almost retreat into themselves to reveal a mix that is delicate and shimmering, the broken beats colliding menacingly with the trebly ring of the keyboards. The gentle lull of the opening track, 'Tropic Of Cancer', paves the way for an explosive drum intro to 'All In The Mood', before chimes and sax intervene to add the melodic base. This is as good as anything coming out of Europe and beyond. The production is superb, the execution breathtaking. And when the last note of the final track , 'Tranqulaise', drifts serenely into the distance, it's an experience that needs to be repeated all over again."
[Zolton Zavos, The Brag Magazine]
"...Okay, the Amon Tobin and generally Ninja Tunical
references are inescapable, but this debut album from Ens is an original, a perfect dichotomy of darkness and light, jazz and electronics. Imagine a soundtrack to a wandering mind, leading you through shadows and back out into the beautiful Brisvegan sun. Such is the melancholy feeling furnished by 'Warp And Weft'. He has a little help here from Metabass 'n' Breath's Sloth on trumpet and rhodes, Nightswimmer on trombone and the pair of vocal cuts featuring Inga Liljestrom and Georgie Zuzak suitably keep the mood. The standouts for me gotta be 'Moonshine Sober' and 'Introvertuoso', but 'Warp And Weft' is a fully realized album that will stand up along its European equivalents. This is organic music woven on a digital loom. Multifaceted but not mathematical Ens is definitely a man to watch closely. City Hub's Chris Peken puts it perfick: ÒFear and Loathing in Brisvegas. One for the brooding lounge brigade."
[Gareth Richardson, Quanum Lounge.net
/ RTR FM]
"Music that's seductive and intriguing,
textured and simple, smooth yet dark, is rarely found, so when it is, as is this first full-length album from Brisbane's Ens, it's to be savoured. And without doubt Warp + Weft will stand a lot of savouring. This many faceted electro-jazz gem repays repeated listening as few others of recent times. Finely crafted layers of sounds, juxtaposed moods, deliciously listenable production, all play their part, as does a well-chosen set of collaborators, who enhance ideas-man Ben Fairweather's original moods and rhythms. Trumpet from Sloth, trombone from Nightswimmer, and some spiritual vocalising from Inga Liljestrom and Georgie Zuzak, breathe organic life into a sampled body, creating a hybrid creature that represents the best of both worlds. Part real time and part digital, the melding of the two halves into a single whole is seamless. More than that, it's very much better than the sum of its parts, as all successful art should be. For this reviewer the downtempo, meditative and hypnotic elements here are simply breathtakingly beautiful, and in the eternal yin and yang of Fairweather's conception, their darkly downbeat counterpoints only highlight their rich aesthetic appeal. Dig that Fender Rhodes sound, or the warm slap of double bass. Sonically, this album is pure ear heaven. Like an aural journey, the album unwinds across various sonic landscapes. The rhythms and moods of each piece are a track that moves deliberately forward, never meandering aimlessly or towards dead-ends. It doesn't really matter what the individual titles are, the effect is in the whole, though pieces certainly stand on their own as perfect little vignettes. Tranquilaise and Tropic of Cancer especially. On the strength of this outing, and previous remixes and one-offs that have surfaced on Tim Ritchie's Sound Quality 2 and elsewhere, Ens is an artist with a finely tuned sense of the timeless truth that to be truly beautiful art must nonetheless have an inner strength, a complexity that belies its easily-appreciated outer self. Warp + Weft has it all.
[Perry Kilmer, Drum Media Magazine]
"Much nu-jazz electronica is strictly for the neck up.
The very best, however, hits you in the guts as much as it gets you between the ears. Brisbane producer Ben Fairweather has achieved a rare blend of heartfelt jazz-based music on his debut LP. Played by humans, cut up by machines and overseen by a talent to take notice of. Broody, wistful, deep, emotive. And all good."
[Clive Smith, Bartender Magazine]
"Ens, real name Ben Fairwether,
makes his debut with an album that charts a lush soundscape somewhere between jazz and electronic music. Ens contrasts the warmth of 'real' instruments, particularly the double bass and some sparse Miles Davis-inspired trumpet, with a digital landscape of loops, samples, electronic drums and assorted electronic sounds. It's a fine example of what David Bridie calls 'organica'. The chill factor is high on several of the ten tracks, but this is no exercise in easy listening. All in the Mood, for example, breaks the tranquillity of the opener, Tropic of Cancer, with a rush of drums leading to a battle between an ominous electronic undertow and a frantic, squawking saxophone. Mr Esoterica is film noir, while Fallen Faces (with a suitably detached vocal from Georgie Zuzak) could be the bittersweet ending of the same movie. This is strange and beautiful music to get happily lost in."
[David Curry, Time Out - Canberra Times]
"Ben Fairweather aka Ens
weaves jazzy analogue sounds through the darkness of digital loops with such fluid style that the mash of the electronic with the organic becomes seamless. Warp And Weft, quite simply put, is a thoroughly hypnotic take on the soundtrack-styled electronica emerging from Australia at the moment. Hollywood noir meets syncopated rhythms without clashing; instead, the mixture creates a sound that is never abrasive, but also never fails to be compelling. Wandering rhythmic studies in mood, like Perspective, suggest a wealth of experience in front of computer monitors, but Ens' greatest trump card is a natural flair for atmos and the ability to arrange well-balanced compositions like a live jazz combo. The term 'digital jazz' is accurate but doesn't quite cover the depth of mood displayed on Sideways Up and the blue feeling suggested by Tranquilaise. This isn't one of those albums that inspires a hefty review. Suffice to say that if you're looking for a mood-enhancing collection of beautiful light electronic sounds with a dash of jazz, you can't possibly get any better than Warp And Weft."
"Sometimes when you're contemplating,
reflecting or processing ideas your brain requires a soundtrack to think to. 'Warp and Weft' offers those textures and layers and provides a beautiful space in which to think. This is certainly an interesting piece of work from Ens, a Brisbane based digital jazz artist, who shows on more than one occasion that he is not afraid to take risks. Vocals slide across liquid like samples of drums and glockenspiels in 'Perspective', while a smoldering stretched out trombone ponders moments alongside haunting piano arrangements in 'Fallen Faces'. Ens is an accomplished artist who shows a knack for creating thought provoking soundscapes and 'Warp and Weft' has all the grandeur of a cinematic orchestra or brooding movie soundtrack as it meanders across unusual musical terrain... This is an exciting piece of work that should please any discerning ear and mature mind."
[SOS, 3D World Magazine]
"A really wonderful piece of work... with
...subtle weaving between the electronic and jazz sounds... It makes for a really soothing listening experience [and] reminds me of The Necks somewhat as well; the freedom in it."
[Chris Dewhurst, Blu FM]
"Warp + Weft is that gorgeous
brooding jazz sound that crosses between organic improvisation and digital manipulation that mirrors the work of our European and British counterparts but stands alone as one of the definite Australian contermporary jazz-electronic releases. Great stuff... I'm totally blown away by it."
[Huw Ellis, 3D World Magazine]
"...A very solid debut ...
Warp and Weft is dark, edgy digital jazz that draws its influences from Cinematic Orchestra, Amon Tobin and probably Rob Mazurek's Chicago Underground Trio and the Grassy Knoll. Featuring the moody horn of Sloth, known best for his work with seminal Sydney hip hoppers Meta Bass 'n' Breath, there are some wonderful moments on this smoky record and the two tracks featuring vocalists, Inga Liljestrom who has worked with The Baggsmen, and head-Grooverscooter Georgie Zuzak remain suitably abstract to keep the mood, and become more inviting with each listen... A promising debut and worth seeking out."
[Sebastian Chan, Cyclic Defrost]
"With the most tender and lulling of introductions,
ENS aka Ben Fairweather slowly generates a lilting break pattern with his opening track 'Tropic Of Cancer'. Rather than coming off hot and sweaty as this title might suggest, Fairweather's feel is colder Ð light and breezy with an occasionally faulting counter melody interrupting what's otherwise a soft opening to a welcoming record. Taking pride in his beat chopping, ENS' sound is one that borrows from the traditions of jazz with moments on the album bringing to mind a variety of traditional artists. Using quite simple melody patterns that are looped, this record doesn't aim for the complexity of jazz, but rather seeks out the sentiment of the artform, crystallised on pieces like 'Mr Esoterica' and 'Moonshine Sober'."
[Markus Fisher, Time Off]
Perhaps it was getting dark,
but squint as I might, all I could see were these luscious shades of orange between my fingers. Did the CD cover actually have letters, or was it some sort of optical illusion? I had to look closer to see that it was Warp and Weft by Ens. 'Tropic Of Capricorn' opens this enchantingly sophisticated and mature debut album; the track unfurls like the dewy petals of a flower at dawn, unhurried and glistening with fragments of light. Although the influence of Amon Tobin is noticeable in the music, Ens' style is in no way a clone of his hero's. This young Brisbane-based producer, jammin' entirely in the digital domain, draws more from the world of modern jazz. The gentle crooning of brass and horn over string and synth bass is tastefully spiced with hi-hats, brushes, and the most restrained use of samples. The samples and synth instruments often blend with a track's vibe with such ease that their presence feels only natural. The trumpet played by Sloth (ex-Metabass 'n' Breath) is arguably the lead vocal of 'Warp and Weft'. At the close of tracks on which it appears, there is a sense of having heard a lyric that has just faded from memory. Vocals of a more organic kind are provided by Inga Liljestrom on 'Perspective', whose beguiling delivery adds another level of richness to the album. On 'Fallen Faces' Georgie Zuzak duets with Nightswimmer's trombone to hypnotic effect. Ens has created a work of such unity, the album is most rewarding when listened to as a whole, rather than as individual tracks. So the penultimate track 'Introvertuoso' is like the flower coming into bloom in the sun; a denouement of a story. And it is a story to be read time and time again. While most contemporary releases are filled with soundbite-friendly hooks, this one rewards commitment. Look closer and luscious shades of digital jazz become modulating themes woven with the finest of skill into the enveloping fabric of 'Warp and Weft'.
[Sid Kid, InTheMix.com.au]
"James Dean on the couch.
Primarily an instrumental exploration of the twilight hours by Brisbane producer Ben Fairweather (aka Ens); the darkness and the warmth, the order and the chaos, the beginning and the end. Fear and Loathing in Brisvegas. One for the brooding lounge brigade."
[Chris Peken, City Hub]
"Building on the more traditional sounds of jazz,
Brisbane's Ben Fairweather skews just enough to the left to create something more than just another chill release. Sure, there are the long, languid horns, loose drumming and drops of piano melody, but on closer listening there's something more brooding below. Perhaps it's because of the frenetic drumming that opens 'All In The Mood'. Or maybe it's down to the softly pounding bass, which resonates with a touch of electronic fuzz. These quirks separate this album from your usual dinnertime muzak."
[Chloe Sasson, Metro-Sydney Morning Herald]