Josh Benash – Stasis

by Joey Dussault (Journalism), published August 19th 2014

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

Josh Benash Stasis Cover
Another one for Josh Benash’s resume – as if he needed it. Benash made a name for himself as the madcap frontman and songwriter of New York experimental outfits Kiss Kiss and Vuvuzela. Reinvented himself as a composer for orchestras, ballets, film and video games. Stasis – Benash’s second solo release and the natural progression of his previous efforts – is full of cinematic oddball pop. And somehow, that all sounds good together.

Indie rock filtered through the strange brain of Josh Benash is a predictably weird, but unexpectedly natural combination. Sugary melodies and (somewhat) conventional song structures provide balance to the eccentricities of  ”And I’m Told” and “Will You Shine.” Meanwhile, “For Two Weeks (you’ve been happy)” joins a very shallow pool of “too tired to fuck” anthems (Weezer’s “Tired of Sex” is the only other that comes immediately to mind). Dirge-like and droning, “Soul Eyes” and “Your Word” could soundtrack a space-western.

The other side of Stasis is decidedly stranger. Album closer “Holy Holy Holy; Round and Round and Round” is five minutes and 34 seconds of cheesy ’80s keyboard arpeggios and nothing but. “Every time I close my eyes all I hear is Lil’ Kim screaming” sounds every bit as horrifying as the title implies. This title is more than incidental absurdity – it really does feature Lil’ Kim’s vocals, warped and played backwards. I strained to glean any meaning from these tracks, but they seem almost too strange to be purposeless. I don’t “get” most performance art either, but it would be closed-minded to assume it’s all pointless. And so I choose to give Benash the benefit of the doubt.

Stasis is not the frantic,  nervous carnival of an album that Reality vs. The Optimist was. Rather, it is an exercise in melancholy in which Josh Benash seems to be truly comfortable in his weirdness. Somber and strangely comforting, Stasis avoids the pitfalls of sad-sack indie rock. The result is an album that is as infectious as it is peculiar, and singular among its contemporaries.

Stasis can be streamed via Bandcamp and is available for purchase on iTunes.

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