American Contraband: Alternative Rock and American Experimental Music

American Contraband: Alternative Rock and American Experimental Music

Roger Miller/Binary System

Having manned the helm of historic and diverse groups like Mission of Burma, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Maximum Electric Piano, Roger Miller has now settled upon a more personal project. After the art-damaged noise of Burma and the high-spirited, archeological keyboard-rock of Birdsongs (which continues on without him), Miller now heads up a piano-drums duo called the Binary System. Though seems that he’s run the gamut of wildly varied projects, is there a common thread that informs all of Miller’s work? He thinks so: “I’m generally combining previously disparate elements, and pursuing the active tips of technique on the instruments I play.”

Miller himself admits that it’s not easy to describe Binary System’s work. In a way, it’s a culmination of his work with other groups and his multi-varied interests in making types of music. “The beats and rhythms are based in rock; the harmony is “20th Century Classical”; the open improvisational aspects relate to jazz; the structure and overview relate to surrealism and dreaming. Sun Ra, John Cage, Cecil Taylor and Béla Bartók arguing about Mission of Burma at a local pub.” That alone would make a captivating cinematic moment, not to mention the audio document that is captured there.

Even if Miller works on other projects after this (which given his history, wouldn’t be a surprise), he’s already become a beacon of the possibilities of what rock and its brother and sister genres can become when someone with enough curiosity and will wants to expand their collective vocabulary.

From American Contraband: Alternative Rock and American Experimental Music
By Jason Gross and Steve Smith
© 2000 NewMusicBox

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