The Lineup


Hillsborough, N.C.

The sound art that Hillsborough resident Benjamin Trueblood concocts as Feltbattery mingles sparse, unruly electronics with intimately recorded vistas from the natural world. To hear birdsong in electronic music is certainly not novel, but Feltbattery always feels uniquely inhabited. Whereas many tape-loopers and guitar-droners might be content to stick a microphone out of the window for a minute to capture that natural feel, Trueblood treats his subjects with uncommon diligence and respect. He spends more time studying their behavior and immersing himself in their environments than actually recording, let alone releasing, music.

After waxing ornithological on 2007’s wild, warbling It Had Wings, Trueblood turned his attentions to the world of bees. First, he immersed himself in their lore and their sociological behavior and spent time at an apiary, collecting stings along the way. Then he undertook the considerable task of figuring out how to record the small but complex sounds of buzzing. After creating fragments and themes from the material, he farmed them out to various musicians, seeking to replicate the communal workings of the hive. He seemed to get preoccupied with Agar Agar, though, a noise-pop band with relatively normal singing and guitar playing, which recently released its first album. The bee opus remains unreleased, although Migration Media’s website still tantalizingly lists a “new Feltbattery CD” with the promise of “Coming soon.”

You never know what to expect from Feltbattery’s live show. You might hear choruses of birds trapped in a shaky cube of percussion. You might hear evanescently processed guitar and singing. You might hear something completely unprecedented. You might even hear those elusive bees. One guarantee is that you’ll hear quietly elaborate music that comes loaded with process, ideation and the visceral experience of really listening. —Brian Howe