With music stylistically described as “floor-stomping blues” and “backwoods-choir elegance” (The Georgia Straight), “dirty-southern-gothic-rock-country-folk” (Discorder Magazine), and “trippy” (The Vancouver Observer) Benton Roark has emerged as a genre-defying new voice on the North American music scene. For over a decade he has maintained a tireless international performance career and a prolific creative output of written and recorded work, producing no fewer than five records of original material. The most recent of these released with his last band Rollaway – The Return of the Lonesome Coyote Patchwork Pulpit, and Sundry Other Tales from the Rainbow’s End – garnered critical acclaim, inviting comparisons to Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, and Neko Case and bringing his sound into a unique blend of ramshackle roots, Southern gothic poetry, and dark romanticism.
Hailing originally from Atlanta, Georgia, his early projects earned him the label of “crafty folk experimentalist” (Creative Loafing), foreshadowing the nuanced sound world that he would later forge during a decade of work across locales including New York, Toronto, and Vancouver, as a solo artist and with projects like Rollaway, The Iberian Six, and the Unseen Exit Machine. Equally at home in the avant-garde realm as in indie rock, Roark’s experimental work has earned descriptions such as “ardent and soaring” (The National Post) and “a dark and interior vision” (The Georgia Straight). In 2015, Roark released the song cycle Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge (“a mysterious landscape of instrumental timbre”, The WholeNote) on Redshift Records. Recently nominated as Composition of the Year by the 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards, this work has been presented by Redshift Music in Vancouver, by Sound Symposium in St. John’s, by Ear Heart Music in Brooklyn, and by Church of the Friendly Ghost in Austin, featuring Arkora, a collective founded by Roark and conductor-composer-soprano Kathleen Allan.
In many ways, this work served as a follow-up to Lonesome Coyote Patchwork Pulpit, which Roark wrote, produced and released in 2010 to glowing reviews. The Georgia Straight of Vancouver wrote “if he keeps making records as good as this one, Roark is welcome to stay here as long as he likes”, whereas Britain’s Maverick Magazine discussed the “poetry” and “complexity of Roark’s lyrics” and Discorder called the album just plain “really good”. Roark's sixth and latest record - Deep in the Pocket, Still No Change by The Benton Roark Band - was co-produced by Roark and Guillermo Subauste, features an eclectic roster of collaborators from across the continent (released December 2016).