Ben Miller

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Press & Critique

“EMPOOL was a whacked-out prog-noise combo, that would eventually merge into the rock-band-era Destroy All Monsters. Empool only played three live shows, but they recorded everything. Guitarist Laurence Miller was a constant throughout. Organist Andre Cynkin was generally on hand as well. Laurence’s brothers, Ben and Roger, showed up now and then, as did pianist Rick Scott. The tracks on this album were recorded between December 1976 and September 1977. Structurally, the stuff is far away from No wave, but it has a lot of the same rough structural textures and jumbled sonics, although there’s also crazy tape noise. And stun guitar stirred into the mix. The fact that it’s mostly instrumental gives things a certain prog/experiemtnal thrust that feels a bit parallel to the bands on the Random Radar label, but it runs wildly against the grain of anything else you’d hear in that era – a magnificent head scratcher." Feeding Tube Records, July 2018

"Like a journey through bodies and landscapes living on borrowed time, the story of (Franck Vigroux’s) RUINES is experienced as a sensory odyssey. Inside, very high frequency algorithms collide with hallucinatory experiences in some no man’s lands around Detroit, with body mutations in a spoiled nature, as well as with the aging of objects and landscapes, ... Unlike the ancient ruins painted by Caspar David Friedrich, and however fascinating, our ruins verge on the point of no return." _ Césaré, 2016 (translation)

"Accompanied by various projected videotapes (with) music performed on a “self-deconstructed multi-phonic guitar.” And wuzzat? 10 separate sound-sources, all coming from a single guitar". _ Trinosophes DET, 2014

“... the electric surges in Benjamin Miller’s score threaten to push past séance into horror-movie territory. Yet the way that a chaotic force seems to break through the classicism of the dancers’ Cunningham training is a fit analogue for the way that grief breaks through Ms. (Anne) Carson’s erudite attempt to contain it.” _ NY Times 2012

"Miller leaves no stone unturned in his investigations into what sounds his instrument can be coaxed, seduced or pummeled into making, like an airliner coming in for a landing or a tree being dismembered by a gang of chainsaws - think robot Gort’s eye opening menacingly in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Unlike most 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. This is challenging, rewarding work." _ Glenn Hall / Exclaim Magazine 2010 (review Live Performances & Radio Broadcasts, Tigerasylum)

"...resonant with the history created by Kieth Rowe, John Cage, and Glenn Branca; fused together with his own virtuosity and touch." _ Jordon Schranz / Tigerasylum Records 2010

"...initiates a stark boldness pertaining to his meticulously modified instrument, forgoing easy novelty for a demanding and rousing execution of pleasantly cryptic resonance. An exceptionally obscure venture into immaculate and subtle clamor."
_ Paul Haney / Obsolete Units 2010

"This warped, questing music is sometimes like a game of blind man’s bluff in a rotting warehouse: you feel that Miller has set things up so that he too doesn’t quite know what’s going on...he stays firmly in touch with the instrument’s sound, so if spokes are being forced through strings, that’s what you hear." _ Clive Bell / WIRE Magazine 2008 (review Sirens of Phobos, Living Records)

"If new expressionists closed their eyes and painted what they saw then Ben Miller must be taping shut his ears and playing what he hears; blood thrashing through arteries, nerves popping, synapses burning,..doors knocking, feet bounding up echoed stairways...Formerly a part of the ’anti-rock band’ Destroy All Monsters, Miller takes the ’anti’ idea a step further."
Melissa Giannini / DET Metro Times 2001 (review Intercom, Living Records)

"...a genre-defying album (Intercom), no chord progressions or standard picking techniques are displayed here, a mesmerizing effort from one of the most progressive guitarists around." _ Reckless Records, Chicago 2001

"...this mad scientist claws at a modified, tabletop Gibson. It’s squeaks, croaks, frequency disruptions and energy fields assassinate Dirty Old Man River’s compositions, knocking them sideways and diluting their cabaretish flair." _ Jordan Mamone / NY Press 2000 (Ageless, Radiao)

"...Miller’s chainsaw hum sputters almost subliminally, lurking in the shadows of the mix." _ CMJ / 1998 (Dirty Old Man River, The Saddest Movie Screen, Radial)


"Veteran experimental pop artist records faithful yet fresh-sounding covers of 2 of the trippiest Beatles songs backed by an ensemble of saxophone and percussion players lead by Ben Miller. You may think you never need to hear another Beatles cover in your life, and you may be right, but these covers are both truly fantastic. The songs themselves are both obviously masterpieces, but the saxophones are arranged creatively, with some backwards effects and all manners of panning and dynamic control. And the thundering drums on “Strawberry Fields Forever”. And is she saying “I buried Paul” at the end? Awesome."
_ The Answer is in the Beat, 2015

"A wonderful saxophone orchestra." _ Terry Riley, 2013 (regarding Cloud 11 cdr)

""...fully embracing the spectral melodies and otherworldly timbres that emerge in multi-instrument settings...a haunting dissonant swoon like that of battling church organs, or a swarm of bugs." _ Christopher Weingarten / Village Voice 2009 (regarding Glow White)

"I’m sure this will be a first for saxophone orchestra." _ Ann Riley, 2009 (regarding In C)

"...reminiscent of The Microscopic Sextet. An interesting piece of work with chamber proclivities and many happy associations."
_ Size Matters, WIRE 2007 (regarding Every Room 45 rpm)


"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 2004


"Ben Miller played alto sax for Ann Arbor legends Destroy All Monsters during the group’s second incarnation with Niagara and Ron Asheton at the helm. As the driving force behind Third Border, however, Miller’s talent as a writer and performer becomes clear, and what leaps out is not without its own quirky charm. Rather than simply replay Miller’s art punk past, THIRD BORDER mix Prog with 60s UK psychedelic pop. Their timely version of Syd Barrett’s Jugband Blues is a fine example of the latter, an eccentrically orchestrated tribute which goes out in fine style with a mad marching band of saxophones and kazoos."
WIRE magazine Oct. 2006