John Also Bennett


It’s fitting that John Also Bennett’s latest album opens with a 15+ minute track entitled “Nowhere.” The songs on the LP are inspired by the desolate terrain of the Badlands, littered with folds forged from volcanic pressure and prehistoric forces that now resemble otherworldly terrain. It’s the kind of place that might feel surreal to someone dropped there out of the blue — a kind of mirage that might serve as much a map of the mind as a natural habitat. While in this landscape and mindset, Bennett recorded the pieces for Out There In The Middle of Nowhere on a 1940’s Oahu lap steel guitar, a Yamaha SY77 multi-timbral synthesizer, and fleshed them out with field recordings of the area. He was then able to stretch the output through MIDI sequencing that drew out the decay even further, letting the desperate ring of his strings stretch over the edge of the mind, dropping off into the infinite with eerie unease.

The record shifts like unstable terrain. Stretches of sand turn to ice as the tones thrum in film reel flicker all around. Bennett’s billowy drones, while rooted in a kind of cosmic country, often attain a soundtrack feel that’s more Tron than Hired Hand, but finding the hidden valley between those poles seems to be its sweet spot. The record lets the listener dissociate, like an aural wash of sensory deprivation that leaves us in some astral plane. The record upends the ideas of ambient, drone, and field recording, tuning a dial between those ideals but finding a frequency that’s more like an auditory test pattern for open consciousness.

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