While it may be difficult to imagine mixing Gaelic music (i.e. Scottish bagpipes) with techno rhythms, Martyn Bennett has done just that. This is nothing unique. Typically producers will sample African Pygmies, a rural Taiwanese and a Hungarian folk singer, mix in heavy electronic washes and house rhythms, and make it their own. Somehow this electronic cut-and-paste "deep-forestation" fuses a sound that is totally unique to any culture, but manages to alienate the orthodoxy among the world and techno listeners.
But with Bothy Culture, Bennett actually pulls it off, blending an album that is distinctly modern while deeply rooted in the traditions of the Highlands. The background material is sampled, often short phrases from North African or Middle Eastern orchestras. But then Bennett layers in his own violin virtuosity on "Aye?" or his bagpipes on "Tongues of Kali." On "4 Notes," he builds on a four-note sample of a Middle Eastern pop song. With "Joik," he performs the Saami people's (Northern Scandinavian) chant to a techno beat, much in Wimme's style.
Having trained in piano and violin at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Bennett's musical talents are quite apparent. But it is his production skills that are most striking. A violin or a fife can skip so effortlessly among electronic rhythms that you easily forget the layers of sampled sound. He weaves his solo instruments in-and-out of the imaginary orchestra just as a classical trained musician. Bothy Culture is Bennett's second release. There is a self-titled album available on Eclectic Records out of Scotland, released in 1996. - Wayne Whitwam
Sound sample located at and courtesy of Rykodisc