Paris Transatlantic reviews Secrets of Teaching Yourself Music
Samm Bennett: Secrets of Teaching Yourself Music
By DAN WARBURTON
The 19 tracks on percussionist Samm Bennett's Secrets Of Teaching Yourself Music were recorded - superbly - in concert at various different Tokyo venues, including watering holes whose names will be familiar to improv junkies (Off Site, Shinjuku Pit Inn...) and edited together very craftily to form a continuously running suite (for once, the word's historical associations with dance are appropriate), alternating relatively simple and at times downright foot-tapping grooves with more experimental sonorities. The album cover photo shows Bennett, originally from Alabama but resident in Tokyo since 1995, with a giant stethoscope inserted into his ears, and along with the snappy 1950s ad style text inside the gatefold ("you'll be amazed how easy it is!") it sets the tone for the album. There's always an element of fun, or at least theatre, to solo percussion concerts, acoustic or otherwise, and Samm certainly sounds to be enjoying himself here. With one notable exception, the eerie theremin-like swoops of "Erasing the Inevitable", the pieces are short - 13 of the 19 tracks clock in at under two and a half minutes - and feature, in addition to the par-for-the-course contact mics and drum machines, a crank toy with portable karaoke mic, various vibrators, beepers and effectors (go figure) and something called a bumble ball (toothbrush is not listed, though I am 99% sure he's using one on "I'm in no mood").