My Adventures in Sensory Deprivation

I have always been  interested in different levels of consciousness and using it as inspiration for art, so when I first heard about sensory deprivation (about 10 years ago) I knew I had to try it. Just like a lot of things in life I never got around to it to doing it…


First of all I guess I should back up. A lot of you are probably saying “What the heck is sensory deprivation?” Basically sensory deprivation or “floating” is done in a large tank filled with water and about 800 pounds of epsom salt. The water is kept at body temperature, and it is completely dark and silent. Because of all the salt in the water you float on top of the water.  So the idea is that you go float for an hour and a half cut of from external stimuli and you start to relax and your brain actually does some crazy cool stuff. Read more about it here.

A couple of months ago I noticed an ad on craigslist from a float center in Portland called Float On. They were looking for musicians to come in and float, and then write music based on their experiences. These songs are to be put onto a compilation cd and also played at the end of floats to let you know your float is over. I applied right away and was excepted into the program. So I did 6-90 minute floats over the course of 2 weeks and had an additional 2 weeks to finish writing and recording a piece of music.

So did I hallucinate? Not exactly, but I did have some really great experiences. Floating can cause your brain to stay in the theta state for prolonged periods of time so it’s sort of like that feeling when you’re half asleep. The best part to me about floating was actually getting out of the tank and stepping back out into the world. Everything seemed much more vibrant and alive. I felt a powerful and sincere sense of joy, that maybe is better described as Love.

Since moving to Portland I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about starting a project doing instrumental music. I figured this float project would be a good catalyst to get me going and there’s a band name that I’ve been carrying around for a while so I decided this would be the first release of my new instrumental band, “Laughter Club“. I guess at this point it’s just me so it’s not a band, but I’d like to find other people to join with me in making weird sounds and rhythms.

Writing this song was a lot more challenging than I thought.  I wanted to write something simple, but not too simple. Stimulating, but not too stimulating. I went through several ideas before finding the right one.  This song is mostly chanting and little bit of synthesizer and bass. I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about it until I finished it. I then laid down and meditated for a bit and tested it out. After that experience I feel that it will be a great song for coming out of a float.

Take a listen for yourself! For best results, float in a tank of water for 90 minutes prior to listening. If you can’t do that then maybe just close your eyes and breath deep while listening.

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4 responses to: My Adventures in Sensory Deprivation

  1. Debbie says:


  2. Mike says:

    The melody reminds me of “Narcolepsy” by Ben Folds Five.
    Bravo, Ben. Bravo!

  3. Allen Nelson says:

    I live next to an abandoned cranberry bog on Cape Cod. The bog is surrounded by ditches that a small stream runs through. Sometimes after dark I put on a wet suit and float in the ditch.
    I had to pause the music in the middle to check if what I was hearing was part of your composition or ambient sounds at my house. I thought a cicada had started buzzing.

    • Travis says:

      I think Abandoned Cranberry Bog (on Cape Cod) will be our next album name. Gotta check with the guys, but I usually have a pretty good feeling about these things.

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