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Ben Neill: Automotive

Mark Corroto By

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What’s a car commercial these days without a hip song? And although I’ve never seen Don Henley’s “Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac,” it scares me half to death to see GM appropriating Led Zeppelin’s music to sell the terminally unhip Cadillac dinosaurs. What self-respecting Jimmy Page fan would be caught dead in those Detroit rust buckets? But I digress.

It seems like (although they didn’t) Volkswagen started all this music-sells-cars business. From a wordless “Dah-Dah-Dah” came a consumer fascination with affordable hip. Enter Ben Neill. At the request of VW, he produced ten soundtracks for their very cool Turbonium campaign. He remixes and expands on these commercial sounds for an entire album worth of music. His mutantrumpet, a multi-bell, multi-valve trumpet that can be processed through a MIDI, predated today’s laptop computer musicians and is in full effect here.

Heard as soundtrack music, there are chillout pieces, dance mixes and minimalist erratum. Automotive draws from Neill's experience with club music, the illbient scene, and drum’n’bass featured on his previous outings Goldbug (1998), Green Machine (1995), and Tryptical (1996). He favors highly accessible grooves as hooks for his songs. More adventurous fans of minimalist trumpeters Axel Dorner and Greg Kelly may find these tracks lacking serious scholarship. But that’s just the point here. Neill chooses to make readily consumable music. His chillout trance, pop loops, and thumping bass have no heavy message. He samples ‘lite,’ dodging the worries of the 21st century for a few moments.

This is great background music, and even better thumping-bass-freak-out sounds with the volume turned up.


Track Listing: Shiny Nickel; Bouquet; Iceman; Radio VW; Nite Nite; Multiplex; Showdown; Bugfunk; The Chase; Turbolectro.

Personnel: Ben Neill

Title: Automotive | Year Released: 2003


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