Music / Features
Track by Track:
Ben Panucci - Age of Consequence
Words by James Lynch
Wednesday 17th October, 2018

Off the back of the release of his debut album last week, we caught up with alt-pop guy Ben Panucci to find out more about each of Age of Consequence’s tracks.
Over the last few years, between performing as a member of neo-soul group New Venusians and in his jazz group the Ben Panucci Trio (or collaborating with a bunch of other excellent local artists), Ben Panucci has been creating crafty pop music on his own, which have finally seen the light of day with the release of his debut solo album Age of Consequence. And just as you’d expect from someone with such impressive credentials, the album sees Ben take the spotlight with relative ease, and he serves up a collection of gleaming indie-rock, bursting with personality and authenticity.

From the immense opening harmonies of ‘Quite’, through to the angular grooves and meandering hooks of the title track, all the way to the lush whirlwind of sound that is ‘Falling’, Age of Consequence is an captivating journey through sound and mood that comes together as an incredibly cohesive listen, despite taking an unexpected turn at every chance. For example, while debut single ‘Come Over’ is a breezy dose of quirky indie-pop, ‘Funny’ strips things back to hit hard with poignancy and ’Mistakes’ is a rush of unsettling psychedelia - however, with each tune packed with honest emotion that seeps through the intricate layers of sound, and tied together with Ben’s assured voice and thoughtful lyrics, it’s an album that shows off his diverse songwriting ability while simultaneously feeling vulnerable and colourful.

Sometimes playful and charming, others sentimental, but always eloquent, Age of Consequence is an impressive debut and highlights Ben Panucci as a name to keep an eye on. To find out a little more, we got in touch with Ben and had him talk us through each of the album’s tracks.
Quite

To me this is a cheeky breakup song. Around the time I wrote this, I found a poem I’d written when I was a teenager that started with ‘dear Jesus, I apologise, I have lusted, I have wasted my seed on fiction’ - I still thought the line was as hilarious as when I wrote it (if I do say so myself) and thought it a good way to start a narrative about coming to terms with a breakup. Breakup, masturbation, coming to terms with the new world around you, realising that it’s actually fine. Production wise, it was fun trying to make the harmonies at the beginning have a choral church like feel and I was lucky enough to have two of my dear friends Karai Hemara and Billie McCarthy who you may have heard singing with Ngaiire (and Karai on my other project New Venusians) help me out on vocal duties. I hope this song comes across as upbeat, a bit funny and also sincere.

Come Over

At the time of writing, this song was an attempt to write something sexy/happy that’s not an RnB banger type thing. In this song, I’m trying to channel some of the fun and beautiful things about having a fling with someone without it being sleazy cos that ain’t cool! To me, it was important too, that the lyric in the chorus is the pleasure is all ‘ours’ and not all ‘mine’ as the saying usually goes. It’s my subtle fuck you to misogynistic sex culture, which although everyone is aware of, isn’t something that is often spoken about.

It’s Alright

The verse riff to this is actually something I’d previously released on an instrumental jazz record. At the time, I had some lyrics but didn’t feel confident putting them to it. The song is about the anger and frustration that can come from being treated poorly and then coming to terms with that through, I guess essentially, Nihilism. Production wise, this was a fun one to work on. The sounds that most people think are synths are actually reverb trails from guitar that I stacked up and layered. This one also quotes some Shakespeare (which nobody seems to have picked up on as of yet) - I’ll leave the listener to work out where that is.

Funny

This song was the last song written for the album and it came together in the space of about three days. It was written well after all the other songs had been finished… I did the whole thing in my room and mixed it myself whilst in the depths of some really shitty feelings of a recent breakup. Lyrically, it’s all very self explanatory. As for the music, it’s basically all guitars and voice and I hope it serves as a nice break from the previous three drum heavy songs. I’m happy with the harmonic movement in this one, it’s nice when they come out this easily although I must say that I wasn’t feeling so great at the time of writing and recording.

Age Of Consequence

A friend had told me about a phrase he said environmental scientist Tim Flannery was using, called "Age of Consequence" - I really liked the gravity of the phrase and the different ways it could be applied. Environmentally, the idea is that we as humans are now living in the age of consequence as we are past the tipping point of saving the earth and now we just have to deal with what we’ve done… kind of like we’ve made the earth’s bed, now we’ve got to lie in it. The narrative of this song takes on that idea about dealing with consequence but in terms of a troublesome and very personal relationship I have with a loved one. This story is told alongside imagery that alludes to a more environmental narrative, which is one that can easily coexist with the more personal narrative of the song. This was another fun one to produce with lots of reverb trail guitary synth sounds, plucked string-like sections and side-chained synth bass.

Sweet F.A

I started writing this song whilst I was on a cruise ship doing a two-week stint as a performing artist in a jazz band. Cruise ships are horrible, horrible places and this song is really tainted with that feeling of disgust that I had. This is one of those songs where the meaning was on my mind for a long time but took time for it to come across succinctly in song form. To sum up, this song is about being apathetic, realising how disgusted you are with the world and how privileged you are and then in turn, being apathetic towards that disgust rather than actually changing anything. Basically, doing sweet fuck all. There are some lines I’m quite proud of in this one, in particular the one about crime being invented by criminals. The government (and many corporations) get away with being so incredibly inhumane, simply as they write the rules thus telling us what crime is. Ha!

Moon

This is one of the older songs from the album. It’s about dealing with guilt. The song starts with the line “what has the moon seen that you are hiding from me?” - this line was inspired (and the theme of the song really) by a series of works by Japanese artist Yoshitoshi Tsukioka entitled ‘One Hundred Aspects of the Moon’. In each of the one hundred scenes, there is something dramatic going on and the moon lights the story. In this way, the moon becomes the all seeing eye that allows the viewer into the world of the artist and the story they are telling. I thought it such a beautiful idea that I had to write a song inspired by it. Musically, the second half of this song is still the thing I’m most proud of on this album. I think the harmonies work really well to build the mood of the song. For those guitarists playing at home, this one is in drop D.

Hands

‘Hands’ is a song about dealing (or not dealing) with depression. I’m questioning whether any change is actually in my hands and if so, how would I go about changing it, it’s a pretty melodramatic song in some ways but I’m happy with how it turned out. The fingerpicking guitar part was inspired by Sufjan Stevens. I was listening to his album Carrie and Lowell a lot at the time… I think the line “no I’m not gonna act like a man, that gendered shit is a scam” is one of my favourites on the record as it clearly articulates how frustrating I find the idea of ‘manning up’ to be. It’s so undermining to men and women in so many ways and I won’t get into it here, I feel like these answers/notes are probably already too long. Anyways, there’s also some references to a Robert Frost poem in here…

Mistakes

I think this is the first song that I wrote for the album… this one is about being an alcoholic and watching those around you do exactly the same thing as you. It’s about looking at yourself and others, realising that what you are doing is destructive and then just continuing on the same path. It’s a very sad song really. I hope the song changes.

Falling

This one is about yearning, longing and being confused. This is also one of the tunes that I wrote towards the beginning of making the album. It was challenging but very enjoyable working on the harmonies at the beginning of the song and I think in a way on this one I was trying to channel James Blake in my own weird way. I was very fortunate to have friend and mentor Paul Mac help me out with the mixing of this one and we got some really lovely textures happening towards the end of the track. I really love this being the last song and I hope that it’s the kind of song that almost sends you to sleep as it peters out. I’m really bummed this couldn’t make the vinyl cut of the album, I really wasn’t thinking about vinyl time limits when writing and recording a 10 minute song!


Well, if you’ve read all that, thanks for your time. I hope it helps you enjoy the album a little bit more if you do decide to spend some time giving it a listen. If you came to this document to quickly grab some lines for press, then I’m sorry to have clogged up your workday with dense text but, I do hope you can spend just a bit of time listening to and considering the music.

Cheers, Ben

Check out Age of Consequence above, and catch Ben launching the album in Melbourne on November 8th at the Yarra, and Sydney on November 13th at the Cobra Club.

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