For those of us who witnessed the evolution of Newark Wilder from a sturdy but inventive rock group into a far more expansive and experimental project, the departure of bandleader Ben Kinzer to Boston’s Berklee College of Music was a tough blow. Fortunately, however, the young songwriter continues to share time between ATL and Bean Town, and that restless instability helped lead to his new musical alias, Ben Absent. “It was partially influenced by living in two different places at once,” he confides, “and partially because I love band names that sound like people’s names but aren’t (Frankie Cosmos is one that comes immediately to mind). Another one of my thoughts was DJ MATLAB, but I thought the novelty of that name would get old quickly.”
As Ben Absent, Kinzer explores a more eclectic and free-wheeling side of his songwriting, carving effusive dance jams out of thumping electronic beats and celestial synths. His latest single, a remix of Newark Wilder’s stately “Heaven” from their 2017 LP A Winter and Spring, sees him transforming the song’s ethereal atmospheres and softly plunging melodies into a spunky, pulsating house number that grabs you by the hand and leads you out onto the dance floor. The remix certainly can’t match the elegant grace of the original, but it’s equally intoxicating in its own way, which is no small feat considering the accidental circumstances surrounding the track’s construction.
“I like to download these big enormous MP3 dumps you can find for free on sketchy websites on the Internet, so that when I’m looking for stuff to sample I can just go through this huge compendium and sort through bits of, like, old ringtones and voice memos,” Kinzer explains. “But, when I started this track I had just bought a new computer and the only thing on it was the final draft of the last Newark Wilder record. ‘Heaven’ is my favorite song on that record because it’s the most emotionally raw and melodically vague, and so I popped it into Ableton and chopped it up a bit and ended up re-synthesizing my voice into this cool choir sound, which you hear at the very beginning of the track.”
Give it a listen below.