BEN NEILL is a composer, performer, producer, and inventor of the mutantrumpet, a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument. He has been called "the mad scientist of dancefloor jazz" (CMJ), "a musical powerhouse, a serious and individual talent" (Time Out London), and “a creative composer and genius performer” (Time Out NY). Neill's music blends electronica and jazz, blurring the lines between DJ culture and acoustic instrument performance.
Neill has recorded eight CDs of his music on the Thirsty Ear, Astralwerks, Six Degrees, Universal/Verve, New Tone and Ear-Rational labels. His most recent CD Night Science was released in September 2009. His music has been featured on numerous compilations including Wired Magazine's "Music Futurists". He has performed extensively in a wide variety of international settings including the Sleepless Night Miami, Cite de la Musique France, Berlin Love Parade Germany, Spoleto Festival Italy, Umbria Jazz Italy, Bang On A Can Festival New York, ICA London, Istanbul Jazz Festival Turkey and the Edinburgh Festival UK to name a few.
In Neill's live performance, laptop computers merge his three-belled, digitally interfaced mutantrumpet with live MIDI controlled digital audio and video. In addition to controlling digital audio in real time, Neill literally plays the moving pictures, making the images an extension of his electrified horn. In 2008 Neill constructed a new mutantrumpet with the help of a residency at the STEIM Studios in Amsterdam. Neill originally worked with synth pioneer Robert Moog to design the early version of his instrument.
In 2008 Neill composed original music for two films. Guest of Cindy Sherman was produced by Sundance Channel, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and shown in film festivals around the world. 911-911, an animated film by artist Mel Chin, premiered at Tribeca Cinemas and was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2009. In 2005 Neill presented his collaboration with visual artist Bill Jones titled Palladio, an interactive movie based on Jonathan Dee’s 1998 novel of the same name. Palladio was premiered at the New Territories Festival in Glasgow, Scotland, and at the Thalia Theater/Symphony Space in New York City.
Neill is also active as a sound and installation artist. His collaborative works with Bill Jones have been exhibited in museums and galleries including Sandra Gering Gallery New York, Exit Art New York, Wellcome Gallery London and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Neill's installation/performance Green Machine was shown at Paula Cooper Gallery New York City. ITSOFOMO, his collaborative piece with the late artist David Wojnarowicz, has been exhibited widely in venues such as The New Museum New York and PPOW Gallery New York, and was featured in the PBS documentary Imagining America.
In 2002, Neill "made music industry history" (MSNBC News) by releasing Automotive (Six Degrees), an album entirely comprised of extended versions of music he originally wrote for Volkswagen TV and Internet commercials. He supported the release of the album by performing on an 18 city tour of the House of Blues and other major music venues in the US and Canada. Television appearances have included CNBC, Tech TV Screen Savers, Wall Street Journal Report, and Media Television Canada. Neill and Jones video remixes were presented at Sundance 2004 and have been aired on Fox TV network.
A native of North Carolina, Neill is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music. He studied composition with minimalist composer La Monte Young, and has collaborated with numerous other composers and musicians including DJ Spooky, DJ Olive, Dub War, Helmet's Page Hamilton, Rhys Chatham, Nicolas Collins, David Behrman, John Cale, John Cage, and Coil.