Benjamin Harrison is an ambient musician and sound artist based in London. He has recently graduated from the London College of Communication which is part of University of the Arts London. His practice is rooted in exploration of space, place and sound. Be that the creation of environments through sound for the listener to occupy, the exploration and sonification of location through sound in situ, or the use of sound to draw one’s attention to and enrich their connection with their surroundings.
An interest in the intricate and entwined relationships between sound and place and their effects on one another is at the forefront of his work.
Taking influence from artists throughout ambient’s rich history, from Erik Satie to Brian Eno, Harrison has developed a pursuit of creating and evoking environments through ambient composition. Brutal is an attempt to apply this practice to a collection of both loved and maligned brutalist spaces across London, past and present.
Growing up in a small town in rural North Devon before moving to London at 19, Harrison was quickly enamoured by the flurry and bustle of the city. The novelty and intrigue of streets upon streets of historic buildings and towering sky scrapers piqued his interest, particularly the raw, rough concrete of brutalism.Architect Mark Alan Andre describes brutalism as a the most pure and honest form of architecture. Simplicity, versatility, starkness. Qualities which can be attributed to both concrete constructions and ambient music. Yes, when one thinks of a multi-storey brutalist tower block you could read it as imposing and inelegant. But when brutalism is done well, and likewise when ambience is done well, there is a tranquility and joy in directness and simplicity that can be found nowhere else.
There are few styles of architecture as divisive and schismatic as brutalism. Whether the sight of towering behemoths of bare concrete appeal or repulse the eye of the viewer, there can be, in my mind at least, no other form of building which so quintessentially captures the spirit of modernity and the mundane beauty of everyday metropolitan life.
Brutal is an attempt to celebrate this spirit - and the spirit of each individual location - through sound, field recording, and music. Picking from a variety of buildings across London - from the iconic terrace and tower blocks of the Barbican, to the H.G. Wells-esque space-age high-rise of the Ministry of Justice Offices - this EP seeks to present listeners with an auditory tour of some of London’s most celebrated, and in some cases most maligned, brutalist spaces.
With binaurally mixed music, binaural field recordings of each space and concrete sounds rooted in the history of each site, this EP is an encompassing and immersive effort to transport the audience to each space through its modern soundscape, its character and atmosphere through the artist’s lens, and sounds from its history rendered through creative reconstruction.