The Hellblinki Sextet
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The Hellblinki Sextet

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2004 Stevie Awards
By Steven Uhles | Staff Writer
Another year, measured April to April, has passed, and it's time to lay down some accolades for deserving people, places and things.
BEST SHOW (LOCAL): The Hellblinki Sextet CD release
Turning what could have been an ordinary gig into a swirling circus of sight and sound, the always exciting Hellblinki showed Augusta what showmanship was about and filled a big room (the Imperial Theatre) in the process.
...

- Augusta Chronicle


Very few bands on this planet embody the playful spirit of those guerilla artists and European theater troupes that take to the streets to accost tourists. The base of their purpose is to entertain, but in doing so, they feel they have to inflict some serious chaos. It's nothing seriously damaging, just putting people in akward and sometimes slightly uncomfortable situations, and then gauging their responses. The Hellblinki Sextet is perfecting this art, taking alternate inroads to entertainment.
By leaving such long gaps between the points at wich albums were released, The Hellblinki Sextet displays more growth on this, only their second album. Though growth is obviously not the focus of making this album, the group has definitely congealed around the traditional approach they hinted at with their eponymus debut. A casual aquaintance with Transylvanian Gypsy and drunken pirate waltzes has snowballed into a full on love affair with the normally esoteric genres. But The Hellblinki Sextet works the styles into a sound orgy that's occasionally gothic, sometimes raucous, but always approachable. (even to those inexperienced with the group) As with the first album and with the band in general a lot of risks are taken on "A Pirate Broadcast" which shouldn't go without advertisment. These risks aren't melodic risks, but instead the kind that come with including non-traditional(and sometimes not warmly accepted) instruments and sounds into the mix. Somehow, for The Hellblinki Sextet at least, the risks pay off.
Thankfully The Hellblinki Sextet plays the best hand possible, which is heavier on the waltzes than with the dissonant noise experiments. In these waltzes, which dominate the album, Danielle Purcell's operatic (and Melodramatic) voice pairs perfectly with Andrew Benjamin's gravelly snarl, even though the two tones couldn't be more dissimilar. The recording as Benjamin planned flows like an aggregate peice instead of separate disparate elements. And though the album does lend to some visual theatrics, it certainly paints grandiose portraits as the lone medium.
Andy Stokes - The Metropolitan Spirit - The Metropolitan Spirit


Hellblinki Sextet plans multimedia extravaganza

Web posted Thursday, July 15, 2004
By Steven Uhles | Staff Writer
Part cabaret act and part living laboratory, the Hellblinki Sextet's oddball antics, bleak and beautiful music and highly theatrical stage performances loom large over the Augusta music scene.

The brainchild of Augusta artist/performer Andrew Benjamin, who performs under the stage name A-, Hellblinki is often mischaracterized as a band. Mr. Benjamin said that although there is a Hellblinki CD being released Friday and a CD release party being held at the Imperial Theatre commemorating the event, the group is more an umbrella for Mr. Benjamin's multimedia interests and the interests of the characters who rotate in and out of the Hellblinki fold.
"It's really just kind of a platform," Mr. Benjamin said. "It's easy, because it isn't something that's defined and it is capable of taking whatever form it wants to. That's great, because while it is a catchall for all the things I do creatively, it can also incorporate anybody else whose input might start shifting the project."
Often a sextet in name only, a Hellblinki performance might feature a full band or it might be Mr. Benjamin alone doing triple time on vocals, guitar and percussion. The group's new CD, A Pirate Broadcast, features contributions by 17 musicians. Mr. Benjamin said that freedom lends to the project's natural evolution.
"A good example is Noel (Brown) and Henry (Wynn)," he said. "Both have played violin with us, but Noel has a more classical sort of style, while Henry has a more bluegrass style. Just that difference really alters the sound, and that's fine, because it makes it a new show every time."
Although the group has garnered a reputation as one of Augusta's more theatrical acts, Mr. Benjamin said the preparations going into the Imperial show outstrip previous performances.
"Whenever I start to do something, it just seems to get bigger and bigger," he said. "So this time we're just going to pull out all the stops and see how big and interesting we can make it. I love the idea of trying to do something in a Little Rascals big show manner."
Expanding the group to nearly 30, including eight musicians, actors, dancers and projectionists, it's by far the largest Hellblinki performance. Although he hopes the show entertains, Mr. Benjamin said he also wants people to be inspired by the multimedia extravaganza.
"The idea is to show people in Augusta that they can do amazing things," he said. "There is no point in looking at Augusta as inferior. We have all the things available to us that anybody else does."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

On stage
What: The Hellblinki Sextet, with the Goodies and Distal
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: The Imperial Theatre, 749 Broad St.
Cost: $7 in advance, $10 at the door. Call 722-8341.

--From the Thursday, July 15, 2004 printed edition of the Augusta Chronicle - Augusta Chronicle


REVIEW: The Hellblinki Sextet "A Pirate Broadcast"
Label: Weirdhead

As I pushed play on the latest from The Hellblinki Sextet, the sound of an old recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is interrupted by a thunderclap. Thus starts the eerie carnival ride that is A Pirate Broadcast. From this point, you envision a drunken pirate steering his ship and misfit crew out to sea. Rocking back and forth with the ocean’s waves, arm in arm, singing sea chanteys while throwing back huge glasses filled with thick ale. The guttural yowl of vocalist A- is your guide through thirteen tracks of beautifully orchestrated tales of love, loss, monsters and fortune hunters. Often bringing to mind the soundtrack for an Ed Wood horror movie and at other times a delightful circus sideshow with help from instruments like the glockenspiel, toy piano and accordion. You would be wise to use your imagination and give this a listen if not for the amazing music, then for it’s theatrical brilliance.
-Monk
R.I.Y.L.: Tom Waits, Nick Cave, The Dresden Dolls - Independents Only


...Reviving the lost art of vaudevillian visual entertainment during a musical show, the Hellblinki Sextet's pirate cabaret is something that needs to be seen as well as heard to garner its full scope. A direct product of tin-pan band Andrew Benjamin's buccaneer heart, Hellblinki utilizes the unlikely instrumental alloy of baritone saxophone, violin, guttural percussion and Benjamin's own patchwork guitar/ drum offering to manage a truly engaging sound. The sax and violin laid a delicate yet comprehensive wrought iron framework that spindled in and around the shambling, sometimes-dissonant guitar and (dare I say Tom Waitsesque?) vocals, seeming more like a full backing orchestra than two lone musicians. Deeply rooted in the percussion, the drumming was furious yet calculated, lending a skeleton to the amorphous beauty of the band's more ethereal aspects.

Enamored of audience participation, Benjamin showered dime-store noisemakers on the crowd, imploring the audience to join into the aural disarray. They gave the impression that it was a one-of-a-kind show, and that no matter how many times you may happen to see the band (and however many lineup changes there may be), it will always be a new, uniquely Hellblinki, experience.

Most refreshing of all was the band's refusal to adhere to 4/4 timing. The guys encouraged the audience to dance along with them through blue waltzes and upbeat gypsy tangos alike...
-David Commins - The Flagpole, Athens 02-01-05


There's a dark underbelly to Augusta, GA., and it is epitomized by the spooky carnival cabaret of Andrew Benjamin's Hellblinki Sextet. Calling his music "broken-tooth blues in a tux, choral fantasies for agnostic angels and peg-leg waltzes on the rim of Mt. Vesuvius," Benjamin has a flare for the dramatic and obscene. His voice is gruff, and the music is tense. These "raw pirate blues" remind me of some of Tom Waits' more obtuse material, but even Waits sounds semi-conservative against Benjamin's gothic undertones. They headline Thee Black Celebration at the New Brookland Tavern with Oddstar and DJs Kantrip and Vitae.
-K.Langston - Free Times, Columbia, SC 02-16-05


Discography

Self Titled Debut 2000
False Document 2001
A Pirate Broadcast 2004
Oratory 2008

Photos

Bio

Hellblinki's unique style is informed by European and American folk music, blended with punk rock experimentation and guerrilla operatics. They have been described as "Pirate Blues" "Dark Cabaret" and "The dark aristocrat of the underground movement today" The lyrics are philosophical, the tunes are odd and catchy, and the whole package suggests and delivers another world, not quite like our own. Andrew plays drums, guitar (occasionally accordion), and sings simultaneously. Valerie is the vocal force behind the afore mentioned guerrilla operatics, plays glockenspiel, melodica, accordion, toy piano, along with other knic knacs and various devices. Brad plays bass, brings the funk, and yes folks, you guessed it, the occasional accordion.

Hellblinki has been introduced by James Brown on Television, accidentally murdered a live fish with a rented minivan, created a stage show with over 50 performers, multimedia, video, snow, and staged it in a restored vaudeville theater in their former home, Augusta GA, has literally been passed out upon by an audience member on a moving bus while performing, has opened for folks like Gogol Bordello and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, almost got in a great deal of legal of trouble for building the prow of a ship on the front of their building (complete with a nude demoness figurehead) as part of a raging Halloween party, has released an Xmas EP (really!) as well as three full length records, and wants very badly to do a houseboat tour with lots of frozen drinks...