Ben Neill, Goldbug (Antilles)

Posted December 31st, 1998 by admin

Ben Neill
By: Eric G.

Ben Neill is a classically trained composer who is known for his work with such underground luminaries as DJ Spooky and John Cage. He plays an instrument that he invented called a “mutantrumpet”- a three-belled, six-valved instrument that allows for the blending of open and muted sounds. He manipulates the mutantrumpet through a computer as he plays so he can sample himself in real time. His music experiments with breakbeats and electronic soundscapes and textures.

His last album, Tryptical, while it did delve slightly into the drum and bass world, was mainly a backdrop for the mutantrumpet. It refluxes more on this album but occasionally finds itself the centerpiece. Slow, languid melodies float over top the frenetic beats in the opening track, “Tunnel Vision”, which features a sloping bass line that sounds like the video game Centipede looks- if that makes any sense. Tribal rhythms sneak into the background, but they are offset by layers of synthetics and abrupt time changes. Neill fuses several genres with Goldbug (named after the computer virus), defying easy categorization but remaining accessible due to its danceable appeal. New York’s DJ Spooky appears on track five, “Lookinglast”, to lend his turntable skills, and Page Hamilton of Helmet turns up playing guitar on a few tracks as well as adding vocals to the title track. Spring Heel Jack, X-Ecutioners, and DJ Krust add three remixes of “Tunnel Vision” at the end as a bonus.

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