Garnett hits the floor with his Huss & Dalton dreadnought. The guitars are hand-built in Staunton, Virginia, at the company founded by Jeff Huss and Mark Dalton.

NV Photography

The guitarist’s experimental string band music opens new vistas for bluegrass, jazz, classical composition, and improv on his stunning debut album, Imitation Fields.

Ben Garnett’s debut album opens bravely, almost daring the casual listener to give up before anything recognizable as a tune emerges from the speakers. Instead, we hear a collage of abstract sound—a tape spooling backwards, spectral voices, and stringed instruments being rubbed and scraped. Out of these two minutes of gentle cacophony, an angular theme emerges, tentative at first, played on banjo and fiddle. Then the idea organizes itself into the punchy, gypsy-derived melody of “Thirty One Mouths.” And with that, the remarkable Imitation Fields gets underway.

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