The music of Ben Neill spans numerous sonic genres: electronic dance, jazz, art rock, and installation soundscapes. While he has garnered a loyal following for his characteristic style of breakbeat programming and the thrilling resonance of his self-designed mutantrumpet on several previous albums, the last few years have exposed millions to Neill's music via the soundtracks he has done for Volkswagen television commercials.
The union of Volkswagen with Neill, a representative of the downtown Manhattan art scene, has produced startling results--which he has rescored and elaborated on to generate an album of stunning quality.
BEN NEILL: Automotive (CD on Six Degrees Records)
This 2002 CD offers 55 minutes of dazzling modern music employing the scores Neill composed for the VW campaign.
Haunting trumpet functions as a fulcrum for agile and engaging percussives and sultry basslines. The horn (and mutations thereof) flow like a liquid mist, coating the melody with a glistening veneer. The percussion is a tasty mixture of drumkit and nimble bongos, delineating compelling rhythms of glorious quality. The basslines rumble softly, evoking a cooling undercurrent that soothingly invigorates. Electronics abound in the mix, lush textures and lively sparkles that attribute the music with a pleasant shimmer. No single sound dominates the structure; each instrument joins its sonic brethren in a perfect union, producing a honeyesque panorama that operates in conjunctive cooperation dedicated to uplifting results.
The compositions are a stunning blend of maturity and frolic, attractive and stimulating with uptempo swishes that trigger the feet and polish the mind. These melodies are highly entertaining, rewarding the audience with memorable riffs and passages that achieve momentous proportions without being overpowering or officious. A congenial serenity becomes peppered with winning rhythms, injecting a dance factor into a trance medium.
While displaying strong propulsive elements that make for excellent driving-in-your-car accompaniment, this music also excels at conveying a celebratory sense which inspires the listener to abandon their vehicle and caper about with arms waving overhead. This music is party jazz, devoutly devoted to good-time revelry.
Assisting Neill's versatile talents on this recording are: guitarist Robert Poss (from Band of Susans), bassist Tony Maimone (from Pere Ubu), along with vocal contributions (on two tracks) by Andrew Montgomery (from the Scottish band Geneva), Dierdre Dubois (from Ekova), and (on a third track) spoken word performances by French filmmaker Chrystel Egal.
The CD's liner notes provide an amusing glimpse into the process of working with an advertising agency to create the appropriate sound and sentiment for the original television commercial scores.
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