Ben Neill has been one of the more overlooked and adventurous exponents of electronica. In the four years since his challenging Goldbug album, he’s been creating the edgy electronica music for Volkswagen commercials. In a reverse of the usual trend, Neill has taken those 30-second and one-minute jingles and expanded them into full-on compositions. Neill has a dark and aggressive approach to electronica grooves, with snarling bass lines and juggernaut percussion loops, that are nevertheless exhilarating. But what really sets him apart are the harmonic and melodic overlays he creates, mostly with his Mutant trumpet. It’s a custom device with three trumpet bells, six valves, and a mini-trombone slide, but it also triggers synthesizers, samplers, and effects. Neill seamlessly orchestrates them into music that references Miles Davis and lounge music, urban jungle beats, and space music overdrive. Putting Automotive in the CD player is like setting the cruise control (more…)
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