|Musician orbits new world
By Steven Uhles
Andrew Benjamin doesn't want to create music - enough people are doing that already. But he does have a band.
Mr. Benjamin has no wish to open a performance space, although he has
recently taken over the old Orwell's storefront on Eighth Street.
Mr. Benjamin long to be an artist, capturing images and saving them
behind panes of glass, but he has produced countless memorable images.
What Mr. Benjamin longs to do, what his creative energies are focused on, is creating a new world.
his music with the Hellblinki Sextet (which, incidentally, is a sextet
in name only) and through his planned Hangnail Gallery, Mr. Benjamin
wants to create a sometimes-dark, always-interesting world, born from
his own imagination, that people can dip into, visiting small pieces of
a larger whole.
core of his imagined world's genesis is the Hellblinki Sextet, a loose
collective of musicians that Mr. Benjamin has gathered to produce a
dense, experimental brand of music that seems at once alien and
familiar. Recalling Tom Waites, Nine Inch Nails and musical
constructionists Psychic TV, it is a music built in layers. Separately,
elements are recognizable - tin pan alley songwriting, experimental
discordant jazz and pop-culture samples are all thrown into the mix.
Together, however, they produce something altogether new.
Augustan has recorded a Hellblinki album and is making sporadic live
appearances. He said the most important part of the Hellblinki
aesthetic is change, changes in style, in tone, even in lineup.
it's important when creating a diverse musical project to have as many
styles, ideas and as many different people's contributions as
possible,'' he said. ``In some ways I want to keep a similar feel and
sound. But then again, I want to be able to change it radically. I want
to be able to hit on every sound I can think of. The same goes for the
performances. I want them to be different every time we do one. When
someone comes to see us I want them to know that they are going to see
something wholly new.''
world, Mr. Benjamin's requires citizens in order to succeed. To those
ends, he is working toward opening the Hangnail Gallery next door to
Infernal Racket Records on Eighth Street. Envisioned as an art
gallery/performance space/arts community center, the gallery will play
host to painters and performance artists, musicians and theater groups.
The only criterion is that the work involve a new and unusual slant on
the creative process.
want to see some avant garde and experimental art in Augusta,'' Mr.
Benjamin said. ``I know that there are a lot of people, buried deep in
the woodwork, that are interested in that kind of thing, and I think if
there is someplace that can happen people will support it.''
moody black with lush red curtains, the space will be prepared for an
official opening after Mr. Benjamin jumps through a couple of important
hoops. Some, such as a business license and some required electrical
work, will be easy. Others have Mr. Benjamin a bit more worried and
problem is going to be putting heating and air in here,'' he said.
``I've been told that it is going to cost between five and seven grand.
That means we are going to have to figure out a way of getting some
funding, whether it's from grants or patronage or whatever. The problem
is, I don't really know how to go about finding such things.''
the hurdles that stand before him, Mr. Benjamin feels confident that
Hangnail, like the Hellblinki Sextet before it, will soon be up and
running, a new attraction in his carefully constructed reality.
what we are trying to do, create that new world,'' he said. ``And if
people who go into it leave feeling transported to somewhere that is
somewhat coherent, then we have succeeded. That's what I want to try
and do. I think it's something people have been seeking for a long