Ben Miller Degeneration

Pinging, sproinging, scratching, humming, droning, guitarist Ben Miller leaves no stone unturned in his investigations into what sounds his instrument can be coaxed, seduced or pummelled into making. Taken from radio broadcasts and live performances in Chicago and Evanston, IL, Washington, DC, Brooklyn and Troy, NY, the 11-track disc contains a snowstorm of sound. Miller's ability to coax a variety of timbres and shapes out of his six strings is simply astonishing. At times, the instrument sounds like an airliner coming in for a landing, at others like a tree being dismembered by a gang of chainsaws. There are moments of cinematic resonance, with science fiction allusions (think robot Gort's eye opening menacingly in The Day the Earth Stood Still). The five-note melodic pattern on "Swarm" returns intermittently, bringing relief from the moiling turbulence surrounding it. Unlike so many free improvisers, Miller's rhythmic vocabulary isn't restricted to combinations of fewer than five attacks; he can extend passages with no apparent repetition of grouping and no underlying, constant pulse. There is some spoken word to broaden the sonic palate also. This is challenging, rewarding work. (Tigerasylum)