On Friday, Benji Robot released a new LP titled A Bird on Barbed Wire. This is his first full-length release since his ever-impressive Sedona LP, which he put out in early 2020. While he has crafted some amazing EPs in the interim, such as Kutz and Cherry Blossom, this long-form collection is everything that we’ve been waiting for from the growing artist. The album is thoughtful, technical, and more than anything, musical. It even contains an additional treat for fans: his recent remix of Mersiv‘s “Digital Eden” from Morflo Records. Released in memory of the artist’s late brother, the LP is a journey through a spectrum of emotions ranging from grief, depression, and anxiety to hope, dreams, and even the best that life has to offer. Rarely have we come across a body of art that so poignantly captures the multifaceted experience of mental health through beautiful and balanced production work.

The LP starts off with “A Rift” which takes hold with its beautiful pads, breakbeat drums, digital arpeggios, and leads that pluck the heartstrings. The tone of the song shifts from calm to dark over its course. While the musical evocation of emotions is extremely tricky, Benji Robot got it right with this track and effectively set the tone for A Bird on Barbed Wire.

Next up is “Outta Wack.” This piece is somber, slow, and brooding. Its rich harmonic content is both haunting and tasteful, and the simple drums leave space for the synths to do their job. This beautiful, meticulously crafted track is just as evocative and showcases Benji Robot’s capacity for incredible synth and effect design.

Zineth” follows, with video game-like vocals and effects over a breakbeat drum pattern. Possibly inspired by a ten-year-old computer game of the same name, this track manages to be nostalgic even on the first listen. The somber synthesizer palette contrasts nicely with the energetic percussion rhythm.

Unrealistic Expectations” is the fourth track off the LP. A somber yet rich synth bed is backed up by a strong, straightforward drum pattern. The tonal shift partway through the track brings in a dark bassline that becomes glitched-out and bounces from ear to ear. Another outstanding downtempo showcase from Benji Robot.

Immense Fear & Self Loathing” begins with a vocal sample that reflects an inner dialogue of shame and regret and elucidates the feeling that the melodic content conveys. Evocative arpeggios and synth leads transition into a groovy drum section. Shimmering digital melodies dance across the more centered percussion and bass lines.

Desperation” follows, with bouncy drums and funky guitar juxtaposed with somber synth melodies. A wild arpeggio introduced along with inharmonic effects and glitches lends a frantic feeling to the piece, allowing the listener to tap into the mind of someone who is perhaps confused about their own emotions. The title of this one is truly fitting.

Losing It” harkens back to “Immense Fear & Self Loathing” with its introductory vocal sample that reinforces the spirit and message conveyed by the LP so far. Ticking percussive elements reminiscent of a clock is perhaps a nod to the inescapable passage of time. The synth design here is immaculate, and at some points evokes a certain feeling of resignation, while later bringing back the frantic, anxious, flavor of “Desperation” with an added element of rage toward the end.

Next, we have “Finding It,” which features glitched-out drums and digital effects over a peaceful synth melody. An upbeat and funky bassline is introduced and, combined with new lead elements, starts to shift the tone from dark to hopeful. The drum pattern switches just over halfway through is incredibly effective in solidifying this new feeling.

Cosmic Relief, Safe From Nightmares” is the ninth piece off the album, and has one of my favorite track names of all time. An introductory vocal sample offers wisdom and a positive outlook that is matched by the instrumental elements. Incredibly thoughtful and meditative, “Cosmic Relief, Safe From Nightmares” further solidifies the transition of the album’s mood to one of healing and moving forward.

Next up is the remix of Mersiv‘s “Digital Eden.” This track takes the original work to a different place. While many of Mersiv’s original elements are still recognizable, they have been embellished by Benji Robot’s signature sound design, effect work, and capacity for emotional evocation. The producer has added enough of his own flavor to make the track his ow,n while retaining much of what worked so well in the original. This remix was placed perfectly within the context of the album as a whole and is one of the best downtempo tunes I have heard in quite some time.

Finally Moving On” is both playful and peaceful, with atmospheric effects that effortlessly balance with the synthesizers and what sounds to be an eastern instrument. This track, like “Cosmic Relief, Safe From Nightmares,” is very meditative and calming.

Roentgen” follows, bringing us bright synths and a beautiful ambience over 90’s-style hip-hop drums. A Roentgen is defined as a unit of ionizing radiation that can yield either a positive or negative ionic charges. While this is reflective of A Bird on Barbed Wire as a whole, in this track it is definitely positive: this tune is very upbeat and bouncy while remaining within the lush cosmic space that ties the album together.

Next, we have “The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn.” A meditative arpeggio precedes a hauntingly beautiful vocalization and a gorgeous piano line that could be straight out of a Studio Ghibli film. Breakbeat drums kick in, as well as an electric bass. Benji Robot’s signature arpeggios dance across the whole track and tie it together perfectly. This is definitely one of my favorites from the album.

The Lesser Knowns” combines groovy drums and bass lines with ambient, calming synthesizer layers. Spacious and glitched-out vocalizations provide a human element that is all at once soothing, hopeful, and reflective. A closing vocal sample provides a linguistic parallel to the musical journey Benji Robot has taken us on.

Purpose” is the fifteenth and final track from the album. This track is incredibly peaceful at its core, lending to the feeling of growth and healing that the album evokes. An arpeggio dances around a single note that carries through the whole song. To me, this reflects the ups-and-downs experienced over the course of a lifetime. This track provides the perfect closure to A Bird on Barbed Wire, distilling down the emotional themes of the whole album into the musical themes and motifs contained within this single piece.

This album is a masterclass in musical expression and emotional evocation through electronic production, synthesis, and arrangement. Benji Robot will be playing at the Sol Fest Music and Arts Festival in May, so be sure to experience this wonderful music live if you have the opportunity. Also, be sure to -peep our exclusive interview with Benji from our HIHF Cabin Fever Festival last summer.

What did you think of A Bird on Barbed Wire from Benji Robot? Let us know in the comments below or on our socials!

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