Echo Location: A Synthesist turns Singer-Dean De Benedictis

Electronic explorer Dean De Benedictis finds Ambient music in his voice

(You can hear an audio version of this blog, with music.)

Dean De Benedictis @ Echoes

Dean De Benedictis @ Echoes

If you’re a fan of 80s and 90s TV crime dramas, you might recognize the theme from Matlock, the crime series starring Andy Griffith. It’s written by Dick de Benedictis, who also scored sexagenarian TV series like Perry Mason Returns and Diagnosis Murder. Dick De Benedictis had a son named Dean, and he’s followed in his father’s musical footsteps, but, the music is different.

Dean De Benedictis did write some source music for his father’s shows. He could turn around a country tune for a bar scene or a heavy metal tune for club on a moments notice. But Dean De Benedictis is an electronic musician at heart. Surface, Vol. 10 He was inspired by rap and break-dance music in the 1980s and then got turned on to Tangerine Dream. His first album, released as Surface 10 in 1996, was pretty much an homage to German space music via Steve Roach and his Empetus-period.

Dean De Benedictis has alternated recording as Surface 10 and under his own name over the last decade, but whether playing techno tribal music or full-on electronica, he was always plugged in. Recently, however, Dean has been shutting down synthesizers and opening up his mouth. He isn’t singing pop tunes. He’s creating ambient music for the voice that he calls “A cambient.”

Dean De Benedictis: A Cambient? A Cambient is going to be what this type of music is referred to if that phrase catches. The intention was to just kind of create a name for this type of music since there is none and it is basically combining the word acappella and ambient. So it is almost kind of hokey in a sense.

Dean De Benedictis's A Cambient Variations

Dean De Benedictis

All of the music in Dean’s album, A Cambient Variations, begins with his voice. It’s follows in a tradition of David Hykes, Joan La Barbara, and Björk, not to mention beatbox vocalists. You can hear him imitating the sound of percussion or a string bass occasionally, but usually, he’s creating an electronic landscape with his voice.

Dean De Benedictis: I specifically imitate electronic music in a sense. I imitate the limitless possibilities of tonal ranges that we have at our disposal as electronic musicians.

Dean De Benedictis says he’s still going to make electronic music, but for now, he can’t keep from singing. His album is called A Cambient Variations. We’ll be featuring an interview with Dean De Benedictis on Tuesday December 9. This has been an Echo Location, soundings   for new music.

(You can also hear an audio version of this blog, with music from A Cambient Variations.)

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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