Hailed (by me) as the Barry Manilow of electronica, Ben Neill writes jingles for Volkswagen. Knowing that, all kinds of nifty little VW commercials will go through your head — like the synchronized New Orleans one, that electro-aria where the guy tries to break up a wedding, that leisurely drive with the fireflies. And, though the compositions on Automotive are based on tunes he’s written for some ads, they weren’t those ads. Unfortunate for all involved, because those commercials are a lot more memorable than most of the music on this disc. Neill is at his best when he waltzes through nu-jazz territory (like on the trippy bongo groove, “Shiny Nickel” and the percussive collision of “Nite Nite”), but more often than not the man swims deep in the uninspired waters of techno and/or ambient derivatives that just leaves one cold. Now, Barry wrote the songs, while Ben definitely doesn’t make this critic sing.
Six Degrees Records: http://www.sixdegreesrecords.com