By Ryan Sutherland
Silent Sun’s acoustic album “Bennett Kane Does Not Exist” is an incredibly intimate, deeply confessional journey through Bennett Kane’s meditative revelations and cosmic observations over the past year. I think what I find so mesmerizing about this album is the way in which the cosmic becomes commonplace, the way the lofty teachings of the Buddha about non-attachment and emptiness are reflected in personal anecdotes about donating clothing to thrift stores and an uncertain ability to let go of an ex-lover (“which part of me is still stuck beside you, and which part says I’m moving on?”) or, more broadly, the uneasiness surrounding giving up the accoutrements of a life of spiritual attachment (“but can I let go of the life that I’ve know?” Bennett ponders).
Perhaps what stirs me most is the poignant silences devoid of lyrical invasion: this lyrical absence becomes didactic, demonstrating — and even promoting — a monastic simplicity evocative of the Buddha’s disregard for earthly possession, both emotional and physical. Only four of the albums eleven songs have lyrics — as Kane puts it in the lyrics of the album’s final song, “I think that words and teachers only take you so far,” a fitting koan. Maybe what Bennett is trying to show is that the didacticism is not in the lyrics, but in you. You are the teacher. The words are yours. Is this what makes this 40-minute contemplation on emptiness somehow feel so full, despite its “nothingness”? Floating above vamping guitar riffs, the prepared piano alludes to the tampura, rhythmically plucking a tonic below a simple yet beautiful Sitar-esque melody captured by repeated arpeggios or otherworldly binaural-like sounds.
The album ends in a prayer-like whisper, fading with the words “Bennett Kane does not exist,” removing the artist from the product. You become the artist. Enlightenment is a personal journey. When present, the lyrics are observant, playful (“I like your vibe, what’s your sign?”), self-conscious and questioning (“There was a time I thought god was like a song. Was I wrong?”), ranging from musings about the unconscious to the unknowable through simple metaphorical language, vacillating between yogic questions of scholarly importance to mundane observations relayed with child-like wonder. Perhaps that’s it’s major accomplishment: not in elevating the mundane to the divine, but putting the divine in terms we can understand. The album is an aural meditation in itself, a powerful exercise in mindfulness and nothingness.
You can listen to “Bennett Kane Does Not Exist” here.