Ben Neill Automotive

Native North Carolina musician Ben Neill has been around since the '80s, learning from and working with the likes of LaMonte Young and Robert Moog. With Moog's aid, he eventually designed his much-lauded mutantrumpet - a mélange of bells, midi sounds and other fixtures that allow Neill to explore a full range of potential quirks, blips and ethereal sounds. The credentials are quite awe-inspiring and that is why Automotive comes across as a fantastical bit of dross in the surreal universe of electronic music. Perhaps one can put it down to Neill's more recent projects with Volkswagen, which mark his later work. He produced tracks for ten Volkswagen commercials, which have been expanded into this full-length debut for Six Degrees. As a 30-second commercial sample, perhaps Neill's acid jazz and dance beats lend a touch of elan to marketing cars, but Automotive is insistently dull, with clichéd exotic vocals thrown in for good measure in tracks such as "Iceman." Though Andrew Montgomery (of Scottish outfit Geneva) contributes vocals in "Nite Nite," and breaks the monotony of this seamlessly one-toned album, little can redeem the overall product, which is about as empty as the categorical attempts to define it - acid jazz, art music, visual media compositions. Neill has created a "product" that expands on a previous piece of advertising with dull results. So, there is little to hope for when he states that the coming together of advertising projects with "creative work," if "automotive" qualifies, is a promising prospect. (Six Degrees)