Rummaging through the shifting sounds that inform his cross-genre extrapolations, Chattanooga musician Ben Van Winkle ties each of these histories together with their common musical foundations. A cellist for over 15 years, he’s taken the classical tendencies that often accompany that instrument and layered them with various pop mechanics, resulting in a sound free from burdensome influence yet still reverent toward its loosely woven inspirations.
With numerous past performances around Chattanooga, he’s certainly no stranger to the stage, having played alongside both the Tennessee Tech University Orchestra and the Bryan Symphony Orchestra. He’s also on the substitute list for the Chattanooga Symphony and Orchestra. But even with such a background in the classical music spectrum, his own work incorporates a far wider selection of sounds, building a unique landscape of electric cello, beat-boxed vocals and complex pop arrangements.
On his new single, “Garden,” he possesses an auteur’s determination, handling all the writing, performing, recording, mixing and mastering duties himself. The track is a mixture of acoustic pop techniques, spry vocal cadences and electronic divergences. It moves along with an energetic gait, with his voice waltzing alongside the swirling melodies and intricate instrumentation that defy easy categorization. The sound of pouring water (or possibly waves) comes in and creates a beautifully organic atmosphere where his classical roots can dig deep into the music and bloom into a complicated pop splendor.
“Garden” is his first official solo single, and it shows him evolving as a musician, away from any genre-specific sound and into a more open-range attitude when it comes to his own musical instincts. You can hear the effect of his past experiences in the song, but there’s also a sense of expectation, a sense of what’s to come, that anchors its weightless melodies and eccentric rhythms. There are rumors of a full-length record coming at some point in the future—more than rumors, really—and based on the twisting tones and circular patterns of this song, it’s going to be something quite special.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.