“If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before.” Wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald in a 1936 edition of Esquire. “You have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter – as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.”
If one can shut the void between the thing one has to say and the way in which it is said, well, yours is the world and all the Nobel Prizes in it. The quality of genius described by Fitzgerald isn’t necessarily intellectual, but instinctual; not choice, but compulsion.
Bands have different strengths, different moods, different spaces they transport you to and it is impossible to find a universal scale on which to measure their brilliance. Some music, rarely an entire discography or even album, can find its way onto a list – more like an incoherent scribble – which attempts to reach the echelons of universal satisfaction. I cannot speak objectively, of course, but when it comes to music which radiates that sort of incandescence then Fitzgerald’s unquantifiable quantification can – somehow – be applied.
I don’t know what Benjamin Booker has done, but the only way I can describe his self-titled album is as if what he had to say and how he – near wordlessly – says it are one. And if not indissolubly one – for after all, it is both premature and inessential and inapplicable as of yet to band about the term ‘genius’ – then so close you wouldn’t need a bridge to step between the two. It’s urgent, it’s raw, it’s the first new thing I’ve listened to in a while that has rendered me unable to continue with my day until I found out what it was. It is blues and grief and love and insolence bursting from the seams of a dry drum rock beat; his rasping voice being the autonomous ingredient which is at once immersed within the texture, buzzing with an indeterminable volatility, and reaching out, seizing you by the eye sockets to say “Look! Look at what you’ve been missing!”