Ben Cosgrove,
The TVD First Date

“I remember playing with my parents’ turntable as a kid. They had boxes and boxes of old records that I’m sure they assumed they’d eventually never have any use for after all those albums gradually became available on CD, and I recall marveling at the fact that you could see, right there on the record, exactly where the information was that would tell the needle to tell the machine to tell the speakers what sounds to make.”

“Long songs were thick, short songs were narrow; a visible scratch would mean a corresponding skip in the audio. I would flip the things back and forth for hours, staring mesmerized at the slowly spinning discs, thinking there was something so thrilling about being able to physically see and feel what a musical recording would sound like.

I am now an adult, and I write instrumental music about landscape—it’s a funny niche to have fallen into, but one I’ve found extremely gratifying for years now. For the first several years I was doing this, I mostly focused (largely without meaning to) on big places: national parks, oceans, rivers, wilderness areas, and vast plains, but with my new project, an album I released in April called The Trouble With Wilderness, I tried making a change.

I was concerned that I might be reinforcing an impression among my audience members that nature was something exotic and separate from the world they knew—something to go and visit rather than to appreciate where you find it—and so to correct this, I tried writing about small places: weeds growing out of the sidewalk, gardens, roadside plants, and other places where it’s harder to say exactly what is wild and what is not.

I wasn’t sure at first how my sound would have to change to address this new subject matter, but the solution I ultimately landed on was mainly to work with the producer and engineer to try and record everything more intimately: to lean into the tactile, grounded physical reality of the piano, both by miking it very closely and by treating it with fabric and metal and other materials to get a set of sounds that could seem mechanical, organic, and ethereal all at the same time. Instead of suggesting the grand sweep of a huge landscape, I wanted these songs to feel close, small, and even fragile—like they had elements in them you could reach out and touch.

When it came time to think about how to release the record, it seemed like a no-brainer to make it available on vinyl. I had never released one of my albums on vinyl before, but I’m glad I wound up waiting for this one: there’s something about the format that makes all these up-close, delicate sounds feel even more personal and authentic, and I hope that when people pick up the new record, they have something of the experience I had when I was little: of feeling closer to the sounds themselves because they’re able to run their fingers across the grooves, or to watch as it spins and see one track lead into another.

I’ve wanted for years to make music that would sound and feel intimate and precious to people, and I’m glad a format exists that makes that possibility so much more real.”
Ben Cosgrove

The Trouble With Wilderness, the new full length release from Ben Cosgrove is in stores now—on vinyl.

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