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Martyn Bennett

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  • Born: Newfoundland, Canada
  • Died: Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Years Active: 1990s, 2000s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

The musical traditions of Scotland are fused with the technology and rhythms of modern dance music by multi-instrumentalist and composer Martyn Bennett. Roots World described Bennett's musical approach when they wrote, "he weaves solo instruments in-and-out of the imaginary orchestra just as a classically trained musician." While the L.A. Times reviewed Bennett's self-titled 1996 debut album as "an invigorating and captivating form of multi-culturalism," the Toronto Sun observed that "the record sports Gaelic jigs, Penjabi melodies, Scandanavian chanting, and Turkish bagpies, which are fit together with seamlessness by synthesizers and drum machines."

Although born in Newfoundland, Bennett's ancestry traces back to Scotland and Wales. As a youngster, Bennett was inspired by the songs sung by Gaelic-speaking Scottish immigrants. He became exposed to the roots of the music first-hand after moving with his family to Scotland in 1977. After studying at the School for Musically Gifted Children, he continued his musical education at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dance in Glasgow, where he studied violin and piano. He later became equally fluent in the ancient Ceol Mor techniques of solo bagpipe playing. He served as personal piper to the president of Tanzania during the president's visit to Edinburgh.

In his late teens, Bennett became fascinated with the rave scene and began formulating a plan to combine traditional and modern musical influences. His earliest opportunities came when he was asked to compose the scores to several theatrical productions including Tom McGrath's adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Kidnapped at the Royal Lyceum and David Harrower's Traverse Theater production Knives in Hens. This led to projects in movies and television shows including the animation series The Urisks.

While he performed with the Wolftones during a three-month tour of the United States, Bennett's greatest successs as a musician have come as a soloist. In 1995 and 1996, he performed for more than 90,000 people at the Edinburgh Hogmanay. Bennett was a featured performer at the premier of Braveheart at Stirling Castle. Rykodisc issued Bennett's second album of modern electronica and world music tangents Bothy Culture in 1998. The following years found Bennett involved in a number of projects including collaborations with Tuva's Huun Huur Tu on their album Where Wild Grass Goes and fellow Celtic fusion group Mouth Music for their 2001 release Seafaring Man. A third album, Grit, was released by Peter Gabriel's Real World label in 2003. After battling cancer for several years, Martyn Bennett passed away January 30, 2005. He was 33.