Ben Shunlay – “A New Sunrise” & “Reflections”

Ben Shunlay (Benjamin Kühn) is a musician and composer from north Germany. He covers a wide spectrum of styles, from Orchestral to Electronica, Chill and Synthwave flavors. Shunlay’s latest release is the single, “A New Sunrise”.  A renewed vigor is immediately evident from the track. A light skittering beat, a thrumming analogue bass line, the earthy acoustic guitar tones, and the melodic synths are evocative of a hazy summer afternoon, vibrant with the pastel colors of Ben Shunlay sound design, which includes emotion-inducing strings. The production is meticulous, and though the track is seemingly light on variation, once you really dial in (and put your headphones on) the arrangement is a subtle panoply of rhythms, sound textures and musical ideas.

I’ve indulged in the record almost daily for a fortnight – whether working or chilling – and I feel distinctly at home within its rhythm laden underbelly, and its unfailing rays of shimmering instrumentation. “A New Sunrise” refines, delivers, and then melts into bliss. It strikes that perfect balance of being memorable and addictive without being cloying or labored. The composition is thoughtfully deft, being so easy to listen to and so hard to forget.

Ben Shunlay’s music is watercolors made audible, an impressionist smattering of cool, comfortingly placid tones and hues that somehow glisten with its lucid shine. Alternately wistful and bright, “A New Sunrise” gently swells and encourages movement. The track is given a glossy colored sheen by the recognizably curvaceous warmth of Shunlay’s string tones, set aloft with some finely placed guitar and bass lines.

The sounds Ben Shunlay uses, and how he deploys them, are considered and purposeful. The bass and drums are locked on mid-tempo cruise control, as litanies of acoustic guitar and string lines peel off in divergent, kaleidoscopic patterns, slowly crystalizing into a narrative song structure. Shunlay never loses the plot of “A New Sunrise”, offering the listener a steady succession of instrumental vignettes.

“A New Sunrise” humbly suggests itself as the soundtrack to the dawn of a new morning, capturing the inexplicable invigorating nostalgia you feel reliving a fresh new start to your day. Music often requires some acclimatization before it can be fully appreciated. In Ben Shunlay’s case, the appreciation is almost immediate, as he creates a tune instantly accessible to the ear. The overall effect is one of remarkable beauty, as the emotion washes over you.

In the sweet spot of “A New Sunrise”, Ben Shunlay treads a fine line between soothing background music and a multifaceted sonic landscape that warrants close listening. Shunlay is primarily driven by melody and mood-inducing textures, which are followed by rhythms. On this single, this mindset surfaces in the layered guitar and string lines that form the melodic core of the track. Rhythm is no afterthought though, as it serves as a platform to push the melodies forward.

Ben Shunlay should be heralded for his ability to create rich, warm organic sounding textures that seem to breathe life into their surroundings. As you become completely immersed in “A New Sunrise”, thanks to the neatly packed instrumentation, it feels harder and harder to pull away, until you absolutely can’t.

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