Ben Neill: Night Science (2009)
Composing an aural atmosphere oozing with timelessness requires a talent for making choices from an infinite array of sound propositions. That talent without doubt lies in Ben Neill, whose Night Science boasts a stunning consistency and coherence in fulfilling of the process of combining electronic and acoustic sounds.
Refining his signature of individuality as he plays the "mutantrumpet," an electro- acoustic instrument of his own design, Neill soars through the musical space. His instrument animates a central character that peeks through the vastness of the matrix of synthesized sounds which Neill has positioned beneath it. Only an indication of the mutantrumpet, blurting out both muted and valved notes, is heard in the second track, "Afterimage." Not until "Gaugear" does the mutantrumpet fully speak, clearly shooting up the scale, an ascendance reverberated as if from distance through repetitive rhythmic electronic interplay, later to return to the melodic line of the coda. The mutantrumpet dubs over itself, its sound widened from distortion, to produce a magnificent trail defying easy identification.
The mutantrumpet tells a tale of an expedition through the multi-colored diversified fabric of sonic patterns. Muted in "Outlands," the instrument thrusts a fluid melancholy through discrete manufactured drum beats and two-tone bubbly piano-like ostinatos. As clear as day in "Menace Ultimo," the mutantrumpet stands up and delivers a chorus to penetrate the simply ornamented backdrop. In "Hearthrob," the horn dips into the pulsating mix, a metaphorical reminder of vulnerability. The brass song continues in "Monochromatic" with long sweeping notes, transforming into semi-vibratos which melt into series of digital sensations. The mutantrumpet emphasizes and accents an organ-like repeated phrase which constitutes the body of "Booster." The muted mutantrumpet finalizes travel and signals its journey's end in the slowly revealed rhapsody of "Hudsonic."
The electronic aspect of this recording has notable high points. Specific Sounds, either simulated or real are: a door squeaking and cartoonish siren voicing in "Futura;" wind blowing, rain falling, bird tweeting and organ grinding in "Outlands;" a wooden flute played, a knife sharpened and haunting shrill syllables sung in "Menace Ultimo," the French word "silence" being spoken in "Hearthrob;" the comprehensible words ..."fully restored..." being spoken by a man in "Booster;" and a train coming to a stop beside flowing water in "Hudsonic."
This highly organized linear evolution of sounds resists the kind of verbal demarcations drawn from a dimensional interaction among purely acoustic instruments, because the extraordinary number of variations intertwine, overlap, and move through a wavelength translucency that oversteps solid ground in perpetual emergence. The textures are luscious, seductive and quite addictive. For once the record starts, there is no stopping until it is over. Nothing is ever the same; every second speaks of the composer's fearless jaunt into a synesthetic heaven conceived of digital progressions... millions of them. A great sonic alchemist, Ben Neill begins and ends this record with his feet planted firmly on the earth. It is his creativity and artistry that propels Night Science into other dark galactic zones.
Track Listing: Futura; Afterimage; Gaugear; Outlands; Menace Ultimo; Hearthrob; Monochromatic; Alpha Dub; Booster; Hudsonic.
Personnel: Ben Neill: mutantrumpet.