FIRST LISTEN: Ben Absent, ‘I’m Sorry Nina’

Just a little night music from the ‘...In The Moment It Felt Right’ EP

Ben Absent
Photo credit: Nadir Baaset

These days, Ben Absent, aka Ben Kinzer spends most of his time studying Composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. He’s back in Atlanta for the summer, though, putting the finishing touches on a new EP, dubbed ...In The Moment It Felt Right, due out July 20.

“I'm Sorry Nina” is the first single from the new EP that finds Kinzer delving into heavier subject matter than anything that appeared on the Heart React EP, which he released in May. ...In The Moment It Felt Right is a nocturnally-themed companion to Heart React, which is full of bright musical textures, and sunny chord changes. “I made this record at night during a period of blizzards in Boston, staying out ‘till 2 a.m. and coming back and working on each track,” Kinzer says. “It’s also heavily inspired by the movie Akira, also for its nocturnal aesthetics.”

Naturally, ...In The Moment It Felt Right takes shape as a brooding collection of songs driven by subtlety and spaciousness. “I'm Sorry Nina” was assembled using samples, drum machines, and synths in Ableton. That sassy sample cutting through the intro with rising and falling volume levles is lifted from the Cheetah Girls’ junior girl power anthem, “Cheetah Sisters.” Here, the exuberant teen pop tones blend with a isembodied voice, chopped and screwed, and stretched out to underscore the song’s dark and enigmatic qualities.

As for mining the Cheetah Girls for the song’s base sample: “Someone gave me an old CD as a joke,” Kinzer says. “I popped it into the computer when I was looking for songs to sample, and gave it a shot. I was able to create a cool melody with it by chopping it up and pitch-shifting it around and reversing it.

“I'm Sorry Nina” also finds Kinzer taking a more experimental approach to sample-based songwriting. Here, he has assembled  patient beats, buried melodies, deep layers that combine at will, taking shape with an abstract narrative. There are no immediately arresting epiphanies or hooks here, just a deep, rich after-hours ambiance.

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