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samm bennett

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Sam Bennett | Photo: Shuichi Chino

Samm Bennett

was born in 1957 in Birmingham, Alabama.

In 1995 he moved to Tokyo. Since then he has worked with improvisers such as drummer Yasuhiro Yoshigaki, guitarist Natsuki Kido, clarinetist Wataru Ohkuma, and vocalist Koichi Makigami. He has worked with Butoh dance figure Min Tanaka, and has appeared on 2 CDs by the highly regarded Tetsuhiro Daiku, a singer of Okinawan traditional music.

He has performed with revered Korean hojok master and shaman Kim Suk Chul. He served as guest member (performing and recording) of Takashi Nakagawa’s Soul Flower Union, and worked closely with Nakagawa as contributing writer and co-producer of his solo project Soul-cialist Escape. He has appeared on releases from singers Tujiko Noriko, Carmen Maki, Haco, and UA. He’s also been a regular guest at Uchihashi Kazuhisa’s yearly Festival Beyond Innocence in Osaka, where he has matched improvising wits with guitarist Hans Reichel, shamisen great Yumiko Tanaka, Haino Keiji, Eugene Chadbourne, ondes martenot master Takashi Harada, Ikue Mori, Kang Tae Hwan and many more. He and Uchihashi are also members of the trio R.U.B., along with Ned Rothenberg. He’s also been performing of late with composer/laptop wizard Carl Stone, in a new duo called Hinge.

In 1998 he formed the experimental song project Skist, along with sound creator and vocalist Haruna Ito. Together they are exploring new directions in rhythm and form. They released two limited-edition CDs in 2000 and in 2002 released Ellipsis, the first CD from their own label, Polarity. Skist tracks have also appeared on compilations from Mille Plateaux, FatCat, Luaka Bop, ::Room 40:: and QUT. Covering Ellipsis, The Wire’s David Elliott wrote: “The duo’s sense of restraint plus Ito’s wonderful voice ensure that their digital methods serve the songs, rather than the reverse…. Their songs are realized with the utmost economy, from an electronic stress fracture stitched with pin-metal beats, or a pulsing line of rhythm and a counterforce of near melodic accents held together by latent tension.”

In 2004 Bennett released Secrets of Teaching Yourself Music, his first collection of solo material since Metafunctional came out twenty years ago. It’s a live recording, culled from performances at Tokyo venues during late 2003. It features his work with a hybrid electro-acoustic kit centered around the amazing WaveDrum. The Wire’s Edwin Pouncey called the record an “amusing and entertaining DIY musical primer… Bennett’s lively manipulation of sound never fails to uncover some new means of communication between the objects he has assembled.

His choice of rhythms and styles is as mixed as his orchestration…” After a long hiatus from regular solo performing, Bennett is now pursuing it fully once again. He’s also writing and singing songs again: during the last year (2004-2005) he’s performed new song material consisitently at various Tokyo venues, rediscovering that part of his musical persona that he had neglected for the past 10 years. He is currently putting together material for his next collection of songs to be released this year on Polarity. (excerpt from his biography)