Ben & Vesper More Questions

Ben and Vesper Stamper are the newest addition to Danielson’s Sound Familyre label, and their music is very much a family affair. They are a married couple (of eight years) and contributing to the recording is Ben’s brother, as well as Kurt Weisman (Feathers) and his brother, Chris. The Stampers and the Weismans don’t seem like a particularly upbeat lot, but they make some very interesting music together. The seven-song EP gets your attention immediately with "Receptor,” a haunting, rich-sounding tune with catchy vocal lines traded off between man and wife. It sets the tone for the rest of the EP, whose dark mood is offset by Ben and Vespers’ harmonies, jazzy keyboard parts and glockenspiel. The song "Garden’s Ahead” is a change of pace, featuring what you might expect from a married couple on a (largely) folk label — tambourine, softly strummed guitar and even a few major chords. But it isn’t flower power stuff; it’s punctuated by a few sad harmonies just to remind the listener where the performers are coming from. Ben and Vesper are on to something good; their music is introspective but not navel-gazing, complex but not self-indulgent and it remains captivating throughout the 22 minutes of this release. With a full-length due in spring, let’s hope they can double the intrigue; they’re poised to be one of the most fascinating new bands of the new year. (Sounds Familyre)