Quarantine and Chill: John Hernandez' Experimental Inner Space Offers Perfect Soundtrack for Hanging Out at Home

Courtesy Photo / John Hernandez
San Antonio experimental musician John Hernandez is back with Inner Space, a two-song album spanning over 24 minutes of layered, psychedelic insanity.

While the new release isn’t an enormous departure from Hernandez's 2019 debut Strange Musings, it does sound like he may have ingested an extra gram or two of psychedelic mushrooms during the recording process. The tracks sound take listeners spelunking deep into psychedelic caverns where they're apt to discover mysterious sounds from cello and piano to maracas and field recordings of birds.

Hernandez explained that Inner Space is about direct experiences he’s had on — go figure — psychedelics and the differentiating affects between micro-dosing and ingesting larger amounts of hallucinogens.

“There’s been times where I’ve taken smaller amounts and I’ve entered into this realm of peace, and then I’ve taken pretty large amounts and I’ve experienced death and talking to God and all sorts of stuff,” said Hernandez. “Thematically what I was trying to present with this record was the dichotomy between that place of peace that you can get to and then also that place of chaos — that ultimately leads to something greater.”

The first track, “All Ten Toes in the Water” represents the peaceful experience. It begins with a straightforward piano progression reminiscent of American folk pianist George Winston. Slowly, light percussion, plucked cello and twangy guitar begin to fold into each other and become a single wave of sound that drifts on for 7-plus minutes.

The second track “On the Road to Damascus” represents the chaotic side of the psychedelic experience. It jumps right in with guitars, saxophone and what sound like wind chimes being shaken violently. While initially somewhat abrasive, acoustic guitar chord progressions and a 4/4 time signature eventually give shape to the chaos. The track crescendos multiple times throughout its 16 minutes before ending in a celebration of tribal-sounding percussion. It’s simultaneously uncomfortable and beautiful.

Ultimately, Inner Space is a work of art and perfect for chilling out at home during this time of social distancing. Or for taking a nice walk through nature ... away from people.

With a pandemic in full effect, Hernandez most likely won't be having a release show anytime soon, but his music is available for stream and download below.

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