Ben Kettlewell is an award-winning composer and an accomplished guitarist and synthesist of many years standing. He has been involved with almost every aspect of music, at one time or another, for over four decades.
Ben lived for many years on Cape Cod, until he joined forces with his partner and fellow musician, Mairéid Sullivan in 1997. He began his professional career in his teen years, paying his way through art school as lead guitarist in several well-known folk, rock, blues and jazz ensembles. He went on to compose music for television productions and multimedia projects. He has won awards for his original scores for theatre productions with the legendary Provincetown Theatre Company, founded in 1916 by Eugene O'Neil and "Jig" Cook. His recordings have been released on Generations Unlimited in the US, Electronic Dreams, in the UK, CMC Distribution, Poison Plant Records, Tarheel Productions, in the US. Besides his solo recordings he has appeared on four sampler albums on various labels, as well as on recordings with musicians such as David Prescott, and Mairéid Sullivan.
The music of Ben Kettlewell is a hybrid of soaring atmospheric works, contemporary minimalism and mesmerizing dance rhythms. His soundscapes form a cocoon of comforting and energizing emotions and imagery. His compositions in the electronic and ambient music genre have been recorded and released on British and American labels.
Ben Kettlewell - Retrospective
A compilation of songs from various albums composed and recorded by Ben Kettlewell between 1987 and 2012.
1. Walking in the Rain 5:27
From the album 'Fantasies of Flight' ©1987 Tarheel Records
2. First Snow 1:12
From the album 'Journey' ©1991 Tarheel Records
3. Wandering Angus 2:29
From the 'Time after Time' soundtrack ©2006 Lyrebird Media
4. Kanji 7:22
From the album 'Kanji' © 1988 Electronical Dreams, York England
5. Prendergast Frogs 2:33
Unreleased track recorded in 2011 © Lyrebird Media
6. 19290 Live 4:45
Excerpt from live concert recorded February 9, 1990 Universalist Meeting House, Provincetown, MA, USA
7. Love's First Caress 11:38
From the album 'Notebook' © 1993 Tarheel Records
8. Overture 7:39
From the album ' Rites of Passage' © 1992 Electronical Dreams, York England
9. Strings in the Wind 5:54
From the album 'Offering' © 1986 Tarheel Records
10. Twilight 3:29
From the DVD 'From Yoga to Dance' © 2011 Lyrebird Media
"Rites of Passage is a powerful work of electronic music that explores the dark and windswept side of the human soul undergoing a rite of passage. Invocation begins with howling gale force winds accompanied by an ominous low rumble and electronic shrieks, bringing to mind the invocation of something rather frightening. Ben makes good use of chordal tension and special sound effects to draw the listener into the ominous mood of the piece. The following two pieces, Trance I, and Trance II, are less driving, and open onto a deep mysterious spaciousness. In Portals, the feel definitely softens and melody is used to give a more conventional sense of direction. The next three cuts are closer to traditional space music, and utilize more musical sounds of the many synthesizers he employs. Here, the tension lifts having transcended the earlier difficult stages of the rite of passage. Hereafter, judging by the titles of the compositions, Namarupa and Siddhi I & II, it seems that the initiate is granted a view of awesome possibilities open to him on account of his "passage".
This is not an album to be listened to casually. There is an intensity throughout that can draw you into a soul excursion of great depth if you are willing to trust and let go, though it can be less than comfortable. I listened to this album late at night in a mediative state of mind, and was nearly overwhelmed by the powerfully foreboding images that arose. I later read the liner notes, and discovered that the composer had created this as a soundtrack to a theatrical production of Dracula, and then understood more clearly the reasoning behind all the intensity."
Geoffrey Mays - Heartsong Review, vol.3, #8
Rites of Passage is a terrific album. So much current music is lighthearted cheery fluff, ...peppy, extroverted, usually rather silly. It 's refreshing that Kettlewell chose to explore the depths of the psyche, the dark zones, the 'rites of passage '"zones, where dissonance and consonance shift back and forth, never revealing firm ground, keeping us poised, alert - and yet irresistibly drawn on, forward, pressing the resistant boundaries of psychic darkness to their limit. Music such as this occupies a rarity-level. It's quite special, deeply moving, accessible to any adventurer who is willing to open his or her ears and venture beyond the safe, comfortable and familiar confines of conventional music. A great pleasure!
Lee Underwood - Pulse Magazine
"Notebook is an accomplished work by the American composer, Ben Kettlewell. Best classified as ambient or new age, this work gracefully intergrates thematic material, generally played on electronic keyboards, over a shifting background of electronic and modified acoustic samples. Most of the tracks feature a simple motif repeated over a slowly evolving background of electronics, trated acoustic source material, tapes and loops. With the thematic material static, development occurs primarily in ther background soundscape. The artist works with a wide sonic palette, including "industrial"sounds. Points of reference would include the work of Jeff Greinke, and 'After the Heat' by Brian Eno, Mobius and Rodelius. Kettlewell's music is high quality, comparing favorably with the above mentioned artists. Music this strong rising above the pap that passes for new age/ambient music, deserves a wider audience."
Robert Glorisco - Sound Choice Magazine
"On his new album, Journey, Ben Kettlewell. has fashioned a wormlike aural environment in the tradition of Eno's "On Land". The music was originally created for a gallery installation by Jay Critchley, inspired by the landscape near the artists home, Cape Cod. Devoid of rhythm or pulse the hour long suite sustains an air of increasing immersion, a sense of arrival at a secret place. A pastoral serenity pervades the album, with the sound of bubbling water drifting in and out of a vaporous mix on the languid "Albemarle". The album is a flowing, spacious workfull of powerful emotional expression."
Dana Fredericks - New Dimensions Magazine
"Kettlewell's compositions present an innovative approach to music. The music he creates is truly a warm delightful sound. The guitar work on Notebook is some of the most artistic picking I have heard in a long time. The synths are tremendously evocative. The phrasing is very animate and he has a great ear for nuance and dynamics."
Christel-Bohm - Synthesis Magazine
"Of the twenty eight albums British label, Electronical Dreams has produced to date, Ben Kettlewell's Kanji stands out as one of the best. Overall, the music is very sophisticated, side one being mysterious and moving, while side two is more tranquil and placid. All the tracks have a wonderful cumulative effect, very melodic and atmospheric."
Bruce Stebbing - Sound Bytes Magazine