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MP3 Samm Bennett - Roomful of Ghosts

Africanesque rhythms and textures meet down-home Americana melodic stylings, with lyrics both whimsical and dark, by turns.

12 MP3 Songs in this album (51:26) !
Related styles: FOLK: Modern Folk, WORLD: Drumming

People who are interested in Skip James Tom Zé Richard Thompson should consider this download.

Roomful of Ghosts is a new collection of songs from singer-songwriter Samm Bennett, just released from Polarity Records. The 12 songs feature a shedload of curious and unexpected sounds from a mind-boggling array of percussion, stringed instruments, jaw harps, mouthbows, synths, toys, gadgets, junk... whatever it took to get the job done!

Bennett''s songs are alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) whimsical, introspective, vaguely optimistic, darkly pessimistic, arcane in their allusions or crystal clear in their simplicity. Like life around the planet on any given day, they run the gamut of human expression.

Stylistically, his music is perhaps best described as a meeting of African-inspired rhythms with melodies that harken back to American folk forms and blues. Imagine the rhythmic playfulness and invention of musicians like Tom Zé and Hermeto Pascual combined with the melodic stylings of Skip James or Roscoe Holcomb.


SAMM BENNETT BIO, in his own words:

I was born in 1957 in Birmingham, Alabama. I wanted to be a drummer from the age of 6, when I first heard Ringo. Just a few years later, hearing Mitch Mitchell drum on Hendrix''s "Fire", well, that clinched it. I banged on the drums (or any other likely object) in every free moment from then on. In 1977 I moved to Boston, and fell in with a young musical crowd there that was discovering music from all round the world: African, Brazilian, Balinese, Carribbean... I was a voracious listener, and became inspired as a percussionist to widen the rhythmic vocabulary. In 1980 I made an epic voyage to Africa (overland across the Sahara desert, hitching rides!) and lived in Nigeria for six months, learning some drumming and soaking up the vibrations.

I moved to New York City in 1984, and started playing with many of the improvising musicians that were starting to build what became known as "the downtown scene". I did a lot of playing, recording and touring with folks like Tom Cora, Ned Rothenberg, Elliott Sharp, George Cartwright and many others. I also put together a sort of pan-cultural rhythm unit called BOSHO, with Kumiko Kimoto, Yuval Gabay and Hahn Rowe. What we were doing in those days was referred to as "experimental" or "avant garde", but I always thought of it as, well, folk music, really. I was just another untrained musician (that''s right, never went to conservatory), following my instinct and playing music that I loved, and trying to eke out a living doing so.

At the same time, I was developing a desire to write songs and sing, and in 1990 I formed a band called CHUNK, in order to do just that. We released our first album, (Life of Crime) in 1991 on the Knitting Factory label. Two more of my song releases followed: The Big Off (1993) and History of the Last Five Minutes (1995), and we did a number of Knitting Factory tours in Europe and North America. My song work, right from the beginning, was characterized by a sonic and rhythmic vocabulary rather unlike that of most other "singer-songwriters"... I''ve been told that I didn''t fit in exactly anywhere, and, well, I suppose that was true! Still, with the recording and touring, the 90''s were a reasonably good time for my music, and we gained a few fans here and there!

By 1995 I was ready to move on, and Tokyo (a town I''d visited, and come to love, on some previous tours) beckoned. I''d already worked with Japanese musicians like saxophonist Umezu Kazutoki and guitarist Uchihashi Kazuhisa, and of course started working with many others from Tokyo''s abundant and varied music scenes soon upon arriving. I formed the group SKIST with vocalist and soundmaker Haruna Ito, who also happens to be my wife. We''ve released two CDs, (Ellipsis and Taking Something Somewhere) on our own Polarity label.

For the first few years in Tokyo, I completely put aside my songwriting and singing: just wasn''t feeling it, I guess, and other musical avenues needed exploring. But around the turn of the century I started once again jotting down lyrics that popped into my head, and a few years later I realized I''d amassed a stack of notebooks full of songs. In the last couple of years I''ve started performing them, sometimes with other players based in Tokyo, but more often as a soloist. And of course, I''ve started recording them as well. I''ve just released, on the aforementioned Polarity label, a new collection of songs, entitled ROOMFUL OF GHOSTS. Barring unforeseen obstacles, I will be releasing many more such collections in the months and years to come. Hope y''all will find a little time to listen!

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