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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 opened up for both Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen and Carnal Kitchen (with 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 will be re-released this year (2011) on the German label WORLD OF SOUND with a 20+ page 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, Empool, led by twin brother Laurence, was a creative workshop ensemble that seemed to be in a constant state of transformation. A website and CD release is imminent.

Also in 1976, Ben and Lar joined up with Cary Loren's Destroy All Monsters. In 1977, as Destroy All Monsters' second incarnation, Ron Asheton (The Stooges) and Michael Davis (The MC5) joined the party, and for the next two years this Ann Arbor/Detroit-based punk band pumped out a haphazard wall of sound opening up for Sonic Rendezvous, Pere Ubu, The Ramones, Devo, Lydia Lunch, Suicide, The Romantics, The Stranglers, and many others. Lar and Ben left the band late 1978 due to creative differences. The band continued as a quartet until 1985. In the mid-Nineties, the original line-up (Cary, Niagara, Mike Kelly and Jim Shaw) began performing again.

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. NONFICTION, the most well known of these, opened up for The Replacements, Lydia Lunch and others. Their 1984 release "Walking Sideways, Talking Backwards" included Ben's hyper-arrangement of Laurie Anderson's O-Superman! Nonfiction disbanded in 1985.

"...aggressively avant guarde pop - one of the few bands that can handle atonality and a beat at the same time..." 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 garage artrock 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 a performance art sensibility until their final performance at the Ann Arbor 16mm Film Festival in 1994. GKW's highlights were several performances at the Ann Arbor 16mm Film Festival, presenting workshops on collaboration at Columbia College Chicago and a performance art weekend gig at Focus Gallery, Detroit juried by Laurie Anderson. GKW produced six cassette releases. A double vinyl release is in endless consideration.

M3 is a recording-only project with Miller brothers Laurence, Roger and Ben. Being that no brother lives in the same state, this long-distance collaboration is infrequent at best. M3-M3 was released in 1994 and Unearthing in 2001. Their third release was considered for 2011 -- all talk, but what a conversation it was!

M2 formed in 2008 as Ben (prepared multiphonic guitar) and brother Roger (prepared grand piano); a mutation of sorts out of M3. You can purchase their 2012 release "At Land's Edge" (vinyl and download only) on Feeding Tube Records. "Purchase here!"

Ben's prepared multiphonic guitar can be heard on Chicago's Dirty Old Man River.

The Saddest Movie Screen was recorded by Bob Weston at CRC, Chicago January-February 1998 as DOMR's second full-length release.
Julian Mills- Vocals, Piano; Ben Miller- Stereo-Prepared Guitar; Sava Vuckovic- Bass Guitar; Dan Freed- Drum Kit.
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
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

Ageless was recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical in Chicago, December 27-30,1999 as DOMR's third full length release.
The cantankerous ballads are Joy Division-worthy; turning desolation into stylistic exquisiteness - New York Press Brooding, roots-gothic...Induces the creepy sensation of being on a dark country road - altering your perception of time Chicago Reader

Ben Miller/degeneration as a solo life-form has been in action since the dawn of the new millenia featuring Miller's multiphonic guitar, as Miller puts it, "...breaking down sound to its lowest common denominator". Several releases can be found on this website

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 was formed in 2003 as a duo between Miller and Jena Kim releasing a self-titled CDR. Later, this expanded into a rock band with two more releases. Their acclaimed 2006 CD Sun of Water, Sea of Light had a songwriter's feel with psychedelic injections of prog and melancholia. Their third and final 2010 release, Return Return, possessed a solid Band-feel with both power trio excursions and similar traits from "Sun of Water, Sea of Light".

CURRENTLY, Miller is composer and conductor for The Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra, a member of The Glenn Branca Ensemble, live sound designer for performances with Anne Carson and Robert Currie, collaborator with Franck Vigroux as Transistor, and the second half of M2 with brother Roger Miller. Ben continues solo performances often incorporating visual projection. He also presents his unique Graphic Score & Found Sound Workshop to universities and DIY locales.

 

© 2011 Ben Miller

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