The Ax and the Oak is Weaver's 6th album at the ripe old age of 29; it is by far his most adventurous to date. Weaver explains, "The majority of this record was written in Berlin, the summer of 2007. I was staying in a friend's flat in Prenzlauer Berg. I had many pictures in my head at that time. This record is not about Berlin, but about what being in Berlin allowed me to create." Produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine), the album juxtaposes electronic musical sounds with warm acoustic instruments with textural results that defy the usual expectations of the singer/songwriter genre. It's hard to argue with the results—evocative, hushed songs that illuminate Ben's affinity for the natural world of birds, phone booths, empty parking lots, strangers in the checkout line, plastic bags stuck in trees and whatever else typically goes unnoticed in the sidewalk cracks.
A former Casket Company warehouse is Weaver's current world headquarters. Multitudinous organs, synthesizers, guitars, a sampler, a piano, a dog, Polaroid cameras, sketch books, New Yorker back issues, boxes of CDs and a PowerBook mark the territory. There is an air of controlled chaos and the musty smell of old tube amps. Weaver writes continuously, a process perhaps more akin to breathing than composing, "I have always identified with those people who make art because they have to, that sense of necessity and urgency. That is why I make art, to fulfill that need within myself and to connect with the people of the world who also cannot live without it."
(From Bloodshot Records, 5/27/09)
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