Premiere: Meet Ben Catley, who breathes new life into Open Skies (This Splendid Sun)

Premiere: Meet Ben Catley, who breathes new life into Open Skies (This Splendid Sun)

Featuring Tijuana Cartel's Eamon Dilworth on trumpet, the winding instrumental affair is perfect for fans of Bon Iver.

Purely instrumental music is difficult to create with an emphasis matching that of vocal-led music, but when it happens, it's often magical. Perth-based musician Ben Catley is someone that knows this first-hand, having build himself a name using music that isn't always completely instrumental, but often has instrumentation in the forefront, rather than vocals which typically lead the melodies underneath. Take his January-released single Run for example, which masquerades his vocal underneath a driving beat that blends the worlds of folk and electronica in a way that feels completely new and unique - a difficult thing to achieve, especially in 2020.

His new track isn't explicitly new, but it reminds us what Catley does best, and offers a masterclass in this instrumental richness we're talking about. Open Skies (This Splendid Sun) is a re-work of single he put out back in 2017, brought to new life and modernised for 2020 with the help of Tijuana Cartel trumpet player Eamon Dilworth, who really assists Catley in telling a story on Open Skies (This Splendid Sun) without the use of words, something that really shines through this single's 2020 re-do.

It's a stirring and somewhat long-winding layering of melodies, with different instrumentation and rhythms joining across the space of four minutes to create this rich, indulgent stir that feels reminiscent of musicians like Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and the lushness that underlays your standard Bon Iver song. In a way, it's a song that offers a sense of escape in a time of need: it's not hard to lose yourself inside the grooves of Open Skies (This Splendid Sun), for example, and the richness that underpins it feels light and enchanting, rather than claustrophic and maximalist like it very well could.

"Words are wonderful, but I've always been a huge fan of instrumental music and how it can tell a story or evoke a feeling without the subjectivity of lyrics," he says on the track. "So, I thought I'd re-work the original song without the vocals and enlist a different instrument. And what better to give some uplifting vibes than some trumpet? I hope this track brings a smile and gives people some positivity amongst the uncertainty of what's going on at the moment."

Off the back of Run earlier this year and with plenty more to come, it's clear that Ben Catley has something special here, so dive into the single below as it premieres on Pilerats a little early, and better introduce yourself to the rising Perth musician while you lose yourself in his endless, lush grooves:

Tell us about yourself?

Singer-songwriter, with a big focus on the guitar, based in Scarborough WA. Often found running, in the ocean or at El Grotto.

What’s the ‘vibe’ music-wise?

I like to think it's all generally upbeat and positive. While it's predominantly acoustic music, I try to keep everything lively and full of energy. I guess that stems from playing in rock bands when I was younger, and my love for energetic music of all kinds.

What are your production and writing processes usually like?

I find things tend to linger in my mind for a while, and then I'll sit with the guitar one day and it'll all flow out fairly immediately. If I can then get in the studio straight away and record while it's still fresh, that's really enjoyable. I find that spontaneous nature adds a bit of pressure and brings out ideas that perhaps wouldn't have surfaced with a more prepared process. And it's nice to try different production elements - it can be tricky to replicate the energy of a live show in the recording studio, so I like replacing that energy with other elements like bass synth, some extra percussion or multiple guitar layers.

Can you tell us about your new single, Open Skies (This Splendid Sun)?

It's a re-work of a track I released a couple of years back, Open Skies. It's one of my more mellow and atmospheric tracks, and for a while, I've imagined it being instrumental with a tasteful horn section of some description. It wasn't until the recent events that I took the time to consider that thought further, so I asked trumpet player Eamon Dilworth if he'd be interested in playing on it. We first met a couple of years back when I was opening for the band he plays in, Tijuana Cartel, over on the Sunshine Coast. He's a lovely dude and a fantastic player, so it was a real pleasure to get him involved

What does 2020 have in store for you?

I'm working on a few new rocky tracks, which I'm bringing my electric guitar out for in the studio for the first time in probably a decade, which is quite refreshing and exciting to me. I was meant to be doing some UK festivals in August, but it's unclear if that'll happen as yet. So I'm just enjoying taking the time for some stillness, fitness and creativity.

What do you want people to take away from the project?

If this track can be a little escape for anybody during these strange times, I'll be stoked. Hopefully, it'll make ya feel warm and happy. The title Open Skies (This Splendid Sun) was aimed at trying not to focus on the current situation of the world. Even with all that's going on, it's good to look up to the skies and remind ourselves how lucky we are just to be here - on a big spinning rock under a huge floating ball of warmth. What a bloody vibe.

Where can we find more of your music?

On all streaming platforms and Bandcamp, Triple J Unearthed etc.

Follow Ben Catley: FACEBOOK

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