In 2019 Blaenavon, the much-beloved band with whom Ben released two widely acclaimed albums, was dissolving and he was receiving treatment in psychiatric hospitals. It was during his recovery that he started to create new music.

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His debut solo record, ‘episode’ is a majestic, multi-faceted and emotionally wrenching record born out of a period of profound personal upheaval. The album began to come together during his recovery. With breath-taking instrumentals and dark, insightful lyrics, Gregory – with the help of producer and old friend Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets and engineer Matt Twaites – pushed his music to genre-bending limits. 

episode was written over a ten-day period, the eight songs that would become the album sprawled out across the vast emotional spectrum Gregory had experienced in the months beforehand. It was important, he says, “that the representations of different emotions highlight those emotions at their most extreme. That’s how it’s been for me generally, especially during and after bipolar episodes. Depression that couldn’t possibly ever end, guilt that you’ll never get over, yearning that will never be fulfilled, love that will last forever. Silly things like that.” 

episode is a record of unbelievable capacity, in which is to be found true catharsis; the type of record that does not come around often. 

His following offering, Bodied, marks his second solo project. The EP is an intimate anthology of songs that delve into the complex relationship we have with our bodies. It signifies an evolution from Ben’s autobiographical debut album, steering away from personal themes and navigating the universally relatable concept of our physical selves. The songs emerged during a transformative phase in Ben’s life as he relocated to Manchester to study following a difficult period marked by a mental health crisis.

Lyrically, Bodied explores the intricate interplay between self-representation and the unchosen forms we inhabit, juxtaposing ‘what you are’ against ‘what you can only be.’ The songs within the EP embrace the dysphoric, clouded and bizarre beauty that is inherent within the human body. A deeply intelligent collection of music, it oscillates between driving guitars, infectious melodies and delicate, folk-tinged arrangements with otherworldly vocals and clever lyricism. Involved in every level of the creative process, Ben also designed the artwork for the EP.

The opening track, ‘In A Certain Light We All Look The Same’ explores the struggle of self-perception, juxtaposing personal reflections with an Ursula K. Le Guin-inspired call for self-acceptance. Following this, ‘Memoriam’ delves into the disillusionment of predefined gender roles and societal expectations surrounding physical appearance, encouraging us to break free from these confining archetypes. The penultimate track ‘Heart’ paints a vivid picture of the daily grind and the pursuit of personal passions, reminding us of the importance of connecting with loved ones in a world of constant distractions. The closing track, ‘Pale Pregnant King’ confronts dysphoria and self-doubt, challenging the notion that sadness equates to safety and finding solace in the act of singing and self-expression.

His latest release is ‘Live From Metropolis’. With all tracks recorded live and cut straight to vinyl, the nerve-wracking process leaves no room for mistakes. However within these self-inflicted constraints, Ben has shown the world his control and clarity of musicianship.

For the making of Live From Metropolis. Ben was joined by friends Blaine Harrison of The Mystery Jets (who also co-produced Ben Gregory’s debut solo album episode) and indie icon Marika Hackman. With seven brand new tracks cut straight onto vinyl with no breaks, no edits and no overdubs – the results are thrilling, intimate and disarming. With the sheen of studio production wiped away, the tracks on Live From Metropolis sparkle with their own kind of magic, the live experience captured directly on wax, Ben Gregory playing straight to the listener.

Releases

Live from Metropolis

Bodied

Memoriam

episode

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