Sound the Mutantrumpets!

Ben Neill‘s Tripycal is one of those albums that looms large in my personal soundscape. Back in my publishing days, I used to wrestle with 300 page manuscripts and marathon voice recording sessions. My head was so often jammed with words and speech, that I’d escape to my office and put on Neill’s record, with it’s ambient, dub-oriented jazz that seemed to knock the text-based stress right out. And on weekend chill-out nights, I’d sometimes hear those sophisticated bass lines and spacey horn notes floating through The Cooler, that old metal dungeon of a nightclub on far West 14th street.

Ben Neill

Ben Neill

More than 10 years later, I have the pleasure of seeing innovative trumpeter and composer, Ben Neill perform this week at the MMiX Festival on Sunday night. Neill invented the mutantrumpet, a trumpet that’s been tricked out with extra valves, knobs, switches and electronics so that he can use the it to control audio and video components in live performance. He first introduced the instrument in the ’80s, working with synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog to create the electronic interface, and he further developed its computer capabilities during a residency in Amsterdam during the ’90s. The result is several albums’ worth of uniquely trippy, adventurous music flavored with jazz improvisation and dance-floor grooves, plus a career that includes many collaborators such as Mimi Goese, DJ Spooky, DJ Olive, John Cale, Page Hamilton from Helmet and the late artist David Wojnarowicz.

A few years ago, Ben Neill began working with photographer and visual artist Bill Jones, with whom he created Palladio, an interactive, playable movie based on the novel by Jonathan Dee.  In their performances together, both VJ and trumpeter control music and video as a single hybrid form – a truly interactive, live duet of images and sound.

Ben Neill’s latest album is Night Science, available on Thirsty Ear Recordings. Ben Neill and Bill Jones will perform at the MMiX Festival on Sunday, October 11th at Theaterlab.


MMiX FESTIVAL – Schedule of Events

The MMiX FESTIVAL of Interactive Music Technology
October 8-11, 2009 at Theaterlab
137 W 14th Street, New York City
(212) 929-2545

Tickets: $20 / $15 students & seniors
Available online at:


6:00-7:45 PM Thursday through Saturday
Free and open to the public in Studio C

Interactive sound installations by
Chronotronic Wonder Transducer
led by sound inventor Steven Litt

8:00 PM – Performance
Bora Yoon +
Luke DuBois +
Todd Reynolds +

6:30 PM – Free Event
Ableton LIVE 8
Demo/workshop by DubSpot NYC
led by Chris Petti
8:00 PM – Performance
Dan Trueman and his Mini Laptop Orchestra
Jon Margulies / Hobotech
Joshua Fried / Radio Wonderland

6:30 PM – Free Event
– Ableton & Cycling ‘74 present: MAX for LIVE
with Todd Reynolds & Luke DuBois
8:00 PM – Performance
Patrick Grant Group
Kathleen Supove / Exploding Piano
Elliott Sharp / Janene Higgins

6:30 PM – Performance
Chronotronic Wonder Transducer
Ben Neill & Bill Jones
DJ Rekha / Basement Bangra

PLUS product giveaways of Ableton LIVE 8 and Cycling ’74’s MAX 5

* * * * * * *

The MMiX Festival of Interactive Music Technology is produced by Theaterlab, radio producer Jocelyn Gonzales, and curated by composer/performer Patrick Grant.

All events take place in the studios of Theaterlab which is located at 137 West 14th St., between 6th and 7th Ave., New York City. For more information (ticket info, directions, etc.) visit Theaterlab’s web site at

Software and laptop improvements present new possibilities for composer/performers to create complex soundscapes in real-time during live performance. The focus of the festival is to demonstrate that these emerging audio technologies are instrumental in new artistic creations, and to inform the public regarding the current state of this art form. The artists presented in MMiX have set a new bar in that discourse and will provide live performances, media installations and workshops.

Ableton, creators of LIVE 8 and Cycling ’74, creators of Max/MSP/Jitter are primary sponsors of the festival with additional support by DubSpot NYC and Eventide.

Media sponsorship for the festival is generously provided by WNYC 93.9 FM and 820 AM, New York City listener supported radio.