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Benjamin Rush Miller: History

Contact Ben Miller at info@benmiller.info

From 1969 to 1971 (Ann Arbor, Michigan), Ben played guitar in Sproton Layer, a psychedelic rock quartet with brothers' Roger (Mission Of Burma, Binary System, Alloy Orchestra) and Laurence (Destroy All Monsters, Larynx Zillion's Novelty Shop, Mr. Laurence). With all band members still in High School, Sproton Layer's performance highlights were opening up for Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen and Carnal Kitchen (w/sax player Andy Mackay). "With "With Magetic Fields Disrupted" was recorded in 1970 and initially released on New Alliance Records in 1992. The group was described as "Syd Barrett fronting Cream" in the book "Our Band Could Be Your Life" by Michael Azzarad. This obscure recording has been remastered and re-released in 2012 on "World in Sound" with a 20-page Info fold-out.

In 1974 while attending an art school in Michigan, the Miller brothers formed The Fourth World Quartet with Jack Waterstone; Piano, Bass Clarinet, Saxophones and electric guitar - a blend of 20th Century composition and free improvisation. The following year, Roger left and was replaced by composer/pianist Denman Maroney.

From 1976-78, Ben played in Empool led by twin brother Laurence; a creative workshop ensemble in a constant state of transformation. EMPOOL fused with Cary Loren's Destroy All Monsters eventually adding the late Ron Asheton (Stooges) and the late Michael Davis (The MC5) to the mix. This version of D.A.M. regularly opened up for Sonic Rendezvous, Pere Ubu, and The Ramones. They also opened for Devo, Lydia Lunch, Suicide, The Romantics, The Stranglers, and many others. The Millers quit late 1978 due to creative differences and the band continued as a quartet until 1985.

Ben's Destroy All Monsters interview Apr. 2004

"While not as well known as the Stooges or the MC5, Destroy All Monsters were another Ann Arbor band whose influence far outstretched its life as an active band. Combining art punk, free jazz, garge rock and lead singer Niagara's histrionics, Destroy All Monsters were the hidden link between the Velvet Underground and no-wave bands like Sonic Youth."
Josh Steichmann ANN ARBOR CURRENT Sept. 2004

In the early '80s, Ben and Laurence formed many Ann Arbor avant rock bands; The Same Band , The Other Band , Low Income Zone, Radio Silence, and Nonfiction. These bands enjoyed opening up for Lyida Lunch, The Raybeats, The Replacements, Mission of Burma and others. Their 1984 release "Walking Sideways, Talking Backwards" included Ben's hyper-arrangement of Laurie Anderson's O-Superman! They disbanded the following year. There are rumors of a NONFICTION 2015 reunion with son Barrett Miller on drums.

"...aggressively avant guarde pop - one of the few bands that can handle atonality and a beat at the same time..."
(Nonfiction) Ann Arbor News / November 1984
"...Best local release of the year... Detroit Metro Times / December 1984

In 1982, Ben formed God Knows Who with Robert Currie as a seven-piece art garage band with two rhythm sections. Its members came and went as did its creative focus. In 1985, GKW disbanded and reformed as a duet basing their sound more on minimalism concentrating on prepared guitars, stereo tape loops, analog synths, and other outmoded technologies during the decade's rise of digital fanaticism. They played infrequently with little regard to audience attendance. In 1991, actors/directors Linda Kendall and Peter Knox joined up honing the bands performance-art sensibility until their final 1994 performance at the Ann Arbor 16mm Film Festival. GKW produced several cassette releases and lots of unreleased material. There are rumors of a 2015 GKW reunion with son Barrett Miller on drums.

M3 is a recording-only project with Miller brothers Laurence, Roger and Ben. This long-distance collaboration is infrequent at best. M3-M3 was released in 1994 and Unearthing in 2001.

M2 formed in 2008 with Ben (prepared multiphonic guitar) and brother Roger (prepared grand piano); M3. You can purchase their 2012 release "At Land's Edge" (vinyl and download only) on "Feeding Tube Records".

Ben's prepared multiphonic guitar can be heard on Chicago's Dirty Old Man River. THE SADDEST MOVIE SCREEN was recorded by Bob Weston Featuring a rhythm section that plays like the Bad Seeds gone swamp rock, and the beautiful, ruined voice of Julian Mills, DOMR plot a murky course from menacing intimacy to unrelieved tension. Mills' hoarse, expressive vocals make Tom Waits sound like a choirboy _ The Wire, 1998

DOMR's precision rhythm section retains a thuggish might, but lively ivory-tickling cabaret-influenced bone-rattling, and Mills' methadone groan iron out the brawn. Miller's chainsaw hum sputters almost subliminally in the shadows. The Saddest Movie Screen packs a classy, lumbering punch of impending doom. _ CMJ New Music Report, 1998

AGELESS was recorded by Steve Albini The cantankerous ballads are Joy Division-worthy; turning desolation into stylistic exquisiteness _ New York Press, 2000

Brooding, roots-gothic...Induces the creepy sensation of being on a dark country road - altering your perception of time
_ Chicago Reader, 2000

While Miller resided in Chicago he also performed in the duo GANGLION with drummer Matt Weston, workshopped his unique all-interval method with THE ELEVEN MIRRORS ENSEMBLE, and dabbled in open-ended jazz with WAKAME NO HIMITSU. FLAW explored headlong in 1999 imposing an absurdist noise-electronica on a number of venues featuring Pete Ayar's adept software blasphemy. In 2000, Miller laid down numerous tracks with Julian Mills as MECHANISM; a recording-only project fleshing out concepts of out-of-sync dual drum kits.

Ben Miller/degeneration has been in action since the dawn of the new millenia featuring solo multiphonic guitar. As he puts it, "...breaking down sound to its lowest common denominator." The quartet REGENERATION explored a similar direction in 2002.

bennmillerr, another solo entity, explores alto and C-tenor saxophones, internal & external feedback, and tape deck abuse. New releases can be found on this website.

Thirdborder formed in 2003 as a duo between Miller and violinist Jena Kim releasing a self-titled CDR. This expanded into a rock band with their acclaimed 2006 CD Sun of Water, Sea of Light. SWSL was a runner up for the Grammy's 2006 Best Indie Rock LP. Return Return was their last release, disbanding in 2010.

Currently, Miller sings with the euro-electronics of Franck Vigroux in TRANSISTOR, composes and conducts for The Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra, is a member of The Glenn Branca Ensemble, and continues to perform solo Multiphonic Guitar often with visual projection. Miller also presents unique Sound Art Workshops and teaches Music.

 

© 2011 Ben Miller

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