Ben Pelchat is always doing something new. When he first started in music, it was not a skin-deep desire to emulate the latest or greatest craze. Pelchat is about the music and the pursuit of creating sound that connects on a deep and lasting level. I know, it sounds alien by today’s standards, since that which dominates today’s commercial music culture is, with every transitory ad sync, rarely a rallying call for ‘deep’ or ‘lasting’. And yet Pelchat the Torontonian polymath from Quebec, has, of his own volition, made the decision to move away from the safety net of Instagram crowd pleasing impermanence to make music that is actually an extension of his own personality (without the tired social media rehearsed posturing). Delightfully, without fear of making his brand of pop into something dark. He writes, sings, plays and arranges everything himself, engineers and produces every note and lyric of that personality. He does so while simultaneously writing, producing and mentoring some of Canada’s most exciting home-grown talents in Toronto’s legendary studio, Kensington Sound, where he has nurtured the careers of Wes Mason, Jade Mya, Vaxxo, Jordan John and many more musical shakers on the Canadian music scene. He is indispensable to all the singer songwriters and bands who have all grown creatively under his tutelage, encouragement and guidance, and he has been the secret weapon in the musical arsenal of countless albums, including my own.
Yes, Pelchat is the true definition of an artist. He studies, he teaches and he shares his craft. However, artist is kind of a dirty word in 2018 isn’t it? It’s become a common word for something that used to represent the extra-ordinary, not the ordinary. When Pelchat is perpetually leading by example as a modern hybrid of Daniel Lanois, Bryan Adams and George Martin, (with A-list Hollywood cheekbones thrown in for good measure), can we really compare his one-man entourage to an artist like Justin Timberlake or The Weeknd who, both remain unchallenged in their very oversized entourages? If JT and The Weeknd are bona fide artists, then Ben Pelchat is a creative warrior. That’s the name of the five-card trick that is trumping every hand the weekend gamblers are playing today.
Excellent entertainers they may be, but how many electricians does it take to change a light bulb? A lot less than the songwriters and producers you need to make a Justin Timberlake record. Pelchat is the kind of artist we used to wait for, the kind that now only usually exist in our dreams. Similar to Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Prince and a handful of creators known for having complete autonomy over what they create with the talent and skill to execute it, Pelchat is, like them, a creative warrior.
‘Gravity’, the second track to be released from his forthcoming album deals esoterically with sex and obsession. Sounds like a stalker on Tinder right? But then, everyone on Tinder is a closet stalker of sorts. Gravity is balls to the wall and heart on sleeve deep and dark pop. This is something spiritual – a genuine hymn to the universal yearning we all have for human contact, and the gut wrenching pain that goes with it. It screams Depeche Mode synthetics and rawk vocal attitude, Gravity is an urgent and base chakra moodscape triggered by the single word refrain of the song title. The production could be a reboot of the kind of audio sensibilities that Peter Gabriel explored on his 3rd album (melt). Such is the rich yet bold bravura of the instrumentation. Even though Pelchat can do everything in the studio, like any great artist with a vision, he commands respect and love from the musicians that collaborate on his music, on this outing, “Trillionaire” Earl Powell and Alexy Guerer take the production reins, Toronto’s Michael Ruberu on backing vocals and The Godfather of Kensington Sound, Vezi Tayyeb on lead guitar. It’s an inspired ensemble, curated and directed by Pelchat with an audible devotion.
The video is beautifully directed by Paul Taborovsky and features exotic dancer/ pole dancer Olly Taborovsky (also art director and video editor on Gravity) with emerging director Vira Solovyova as 1st AD and producer. Having worked with nude dancers and Burlesque artists myself in the past, I know it’s all to easy for pundits to criticise male artists who feature female dancers as some sort of sexploitative move. But Olly Taborovsky is an artist and connoisseur of her craft. Pelchat shares the platform almost as a supporting role to her performance and plays the kind of rock star who you would expect to know nothing about the technology plug-in planet of pro-audio recording. He acts beautifully, and leaves the many other hats that he wears off camera.
Olly Taborovsky not only art directs the video, but is chief editor it as well. So it’s probably fair to assume this free thinking vegan creative warrior is also a big supporter of women’s rights and gender parity in the work place. Pelchat and Taborovsky create a magical duet of sublime visual tapestry that never strays from the canvas of the song itself. The sexual tension is electric and leaves you wanting to know what happens next in the story.
I hazard a guess that we will have to wait until Pelchat’s album is released to find out how that story unfolds. I for one, am being pulled towards that anticipation by what can only be…Gravity. In both senses of the word, which are of course synonymous with Ben Pelchat himself – serious and magnetic. Gravity is out now
Tim Arnold, 6th August 2018
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