I’ve been listening to Ben Neill’s music for a few years. A composer, performer, and creator of a unique musical instrument, the mutantrumpet, much of his previous work has been in the electronica and nu-jazz genres. His new project, XIX, with Mimi Goese, John Conte and Jim Mussen, is much, much different. The band is currently finishing up a recording with producer Peter Katis (Interpol, Mercury Rev, The National).
Ben has designed a new version of his unique electro-acoustic instrument, the mutantrumpet, which has just been completed. Working with engineers and designers in New York and Amsterdam, Neill has greatly updated the electronic capabilities of his instrument. The mutantrumpet has been evolving since the mid-1980’s when Neill originally worked with synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog to design its first electronic interface. In 1992 Neill made the instrument fully computer interactive through a residency at the Steim studios in Amsterdam, a research and development lab for new instruments. The new mutantrumpet uses technologies from Steim as well as a new ergonomic design which now includes 8 continuous MIDI controllers and 8 momentary MIDI controllers in addition to the acoustic note and volume control from the instrument’s natural sound. The instrument connects directly to the computer via USB.
Neill will debut the new instrument later this year with his group XIX at Joe’s Pub [October 26, don’t miss it!—The New Centrist] and Teatro Manzoni, Milan, Italy.
The following description is from their website:
XIX is a collaboration by vocalist Mimi Goese and mutantrumpeter Ben Neill, with bassist John Conte and drummer Jim Mussen. Ambient electronic textures sampled from 19th century classical music are combined with Mimi’s hauntingly beautiful voice and the futuristic sounds of Neill’s self-designed mutantrumpet. Conte and Mussen add deep live grooves to the mix of electronica, space rock and classical music.