Chicago producer unleashes shimmering, ambient synth-laced odyssey
Quicksails is the solo recording moniker of Chicago producer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Billington. A staple of the city’s experimental scene and the national DIY circuit, Billington has performed with groups like Tiger Hatchery and as a member of Ryley Walker’s band in addition to collaborating with the likes of Rhys Chatham and Wolf Eyes’ John Olson. So far he’s released three excellent LPs full of heady, shimmering, ambient synth soundscapes: Mayville Dream (2013), Spillage (2015) and Mortal (2016).
Today he blesses us with his newest full length album, the lush and amorphous Blue Rise. Working with a palette of gyrating synthetic tones, pulsating drum machines and bleary atmospherics, the album showcases Quicksails’ knack for melody and mood-setting. The glitchy and flickering lead track “Cypress” sets the tone nicely, with swelling background synths providing the anchor for a bevy of warbling, insect-like samples. From there, Blue Rise moves from one cosmic psychedelic tapestry to another. Billington’s ability to fluctuate and balance sonic layers is on full display, as evidenced by the sparse “Ice Walk (With Love),” whose guttural synth notes bend and wrap around a hauntingly monolithic piano melody. Meanwhile, the epic one-two final punch of “Florian’s Brush” and “Woodhaven” showcases a kinetic ebb and flow of ambient textures – delicate, ethereal elixirs that simmer with devastating beauty.
Rounded out by an orchestra of cymbals, wind chimes, shakers and snowballing low end, Blue Rise is an invitation into a vast, sensory listening experience that runs the full gamut of human emotion. It’s another incredible musical odyssey from Quicksails. The LP is out now via Chicago-based Hausu Mountain. You can purchase it HERE and sample it below.