Ben Neill

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Mainspring , 6/10
Torchtower , 6/10
Green Machine , 6/10
Triptycal , 6/10
Goldbug , 6/10

Ben Neill was born in North Carolina and moved to New York to pursue a musical career within the school of minimalism. He joined La Monte Young's ensemble on "mutantrumpet", an electro-acoustic instrument with a modified trumpet enhanced with an electronic circuit (originally designed by Robert Moog, and later evolved into a much more complex device), an invention that prompted comparisons with Jon Hassell's legendary trumpet.
Besides featuring on recordings by La Monte Young, John Cage, Rhys Chatham, David Behrman, Nicolas Collins, Fast Forward, Paul Schutze, Pauline Oliveros, and even John Cale, Neill became a staple and an organizer of the New York avantgarde scene.

His early compositions surfaced on Mainspring (Ear-Rational, 1988): Mainspring (1985), Two Dances, Dis-Solution (1986), No More People (1988).

In the Shadow of Forward Motion (New Tone, 1993), also known as ITSOFOMO, documents a 1989 multimedia collaboration with visual artist David Wojnarowicz and percussionist Don Yallech. Aggregation, Intermezzo and The Industrial Section are the key pieces.

Neill also played on guitarists Dave Soldier's Smut (Avant, 1994) with trombonist Rob Bethea, guitarist Bob Bannister, percussionists Jim Pugliese and Samm Bennett, vocalists Wilbur Pauley, Napua Davoy and Tiye Giraud.

Torchtower (New Tone, 1994) collects pieces composed between 1987 and 1992 for the Mainspring ensemble (two trombones, pedal steel guitar, electric guitar and percussions) The standout is Money Talk, that samples a salesman over rapid-fire trumpet phrases. Abblasen House merges classical (baroque) and popular music.

Green Machine (november 1994 - Astralwerks, 1995) is the soundtrack to a multimedia installation, and the most atmospheric of his recordings for "mutantrumpet".

It was in the mid-1990s that Neill began to develop a fascination for dance music. Triptycal (april 1996 - Antilles, 1996) featured collaborations with two disc-jockeys of the "illbient" movement (DJ Spooky and DJ Olive) and blurred the borders between popular, dance and classical music. Neill indulged in techno, hip-hop and drum'n'bass beats while employing sophisticated mathematical techniques to compose his pieces. The result was lush and atmospheric, whether feasting on the drum'n'space of "Propeller" or drifting in the world music of Triptycal or indulging in the acid-jazz textures of Twelfth Flight.

Helped by Helmet's guitarist Page Hamilton, cellist Jane Scarpantoni and DJ Spooky, on Goldbug (Antilles, 1998) Neill delivered more uptempo dance-floor numbers such as Tunnel Vision, Route Me Out, Shirt Waste and Goldbug (that samples Berlioz's "The Damnation of Faust").

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Tobia D'Onofrio)

Ben Neill, originario del North Carolina, si trasferisce a New York per intraprendere una carriera musicale all’interno della scuola minimalista. Entra nell’ensemble di La Monte Young alla "mutantrumpet" (tromba mutante), uno strumento elettroacustico che unisce una tromba "personalizzata" ad un circuito elettronico (disegnato inizialmente da Robert Moog e poi evolutosi in un dispositivo molto più complesso), invenzione che ha ispirato paragoni con la leggendaria tromba di Jon Hassell.

Neill diventa non soltanto organizzatore, ma anche "pezzo forte" della scena avant-garde di New York, oltre a figurare nei lavori di La Monte Young, John Cage, Rhys Chatham, David Behrman, Nicolas Collins, Fast Forward, Paul Schutze, Pauline Oliveros, e persino John Cale.

Le sue prime composizioni sono raccolte su Mainspring (Ear-Rational, 1988): Mainspring (1985), Two Dances, Dis-Solution (1986), No More People (1988).

In the Shadow of Forward Motion (New Tone, 1993), conosciuto anche come ITSOFOMO, documenta una collaborazione multimediale del 1989 con l’artista visuale David Wojnarowicz ed il percussionista Don Yallech. Aggregation, Intermezzo e The Industrial Section sono i brani chiave.

Neill suona anche sull’album Smut (Avant, 1994) del chitarrista Dave Soldier, con il trombonista Rob Bethea, il chitarrista Bob Bannister, i percussionisti Jim Pugliese e Samm Bennett, i cantanti Wilbur Pauley, Napua Davoy e Tiye Giraud.

Torchtower (New Tone, 1994) raccoglie pezzi scritti fra il 1987 e il 1992 per il Mainspring Ensemble (due tromboni, pedal-steel guitar, chitarra elettrica e percussioni). L’apice è Money Talk, che campiona un commerciante su raffiche di tromba. Abblasen House mescola musica classica (barocca) e popolare.

Green Machine (november 1994 - Astralwerks, 1995) è la colonna sonora di un’istallazione multimediale, forse la registrazione più atmosferica per "mutantrumpet".

A metà degli anni 90 Neill comincia a sviluppare un interesse per la musica dance. Triptycal (April 1996 - Antilles, 1996) presenta collaborazioni con due DJ del movimento "illbient" (DJ Spooky e DJ Olive) e rende sfocati i confini tra musica popolare, dance e classica. Neill indulge nei beat techno, hip-hop e drum’n’bass, impiegando sofisticate tecniche matematiche per comporre i suoi pezzi. Il risultato è intenso e atmosferico, che sia banchettare nello spazio drum’n’bass di "Propeller", oppure andare alla deriva nella world-music di Triptycal, o ancora abbandonarsi alle trame acid-jazz di Twelfth Flight.

Con Goldbug (Antilles, 1998) partorisce nuovi uptempo da dancefloor, come Tunnel Vision, Route Me Out, Shirt Waste e Goldbug (che campiona "The Damnation of Faust" di Berlioz), aiutato dal chitarrista degli Helmet Page Hamilton, dalla violoncellista Jane Scarpantoni e da DJ Spooky.

The hysterical digital beats are antithetic to the trumpet's long drones on Night Science (2009), creating an unnerving atmosphere.

Posthorn (completed in 2005) is based on the Posthorn solo for trumpet in Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony.

Schizetude 3, a series of variations on a 12-tone theme, with specific pitches assigned to different acoustic and electronic timbres, was composed in 1991 but only released in 2022.

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