Hey there Modern Drummer world! I’m Ben Reimer. I’ve been reading MD since the ’80s and I’m thrilled to be sharing a bit about what I’m up to these days.
I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where I teach percussion at McGill University and play in the group Architek Percussion Quartet. While I went the route of studying classical and contemporary percussion, my main focus as a player is drumset.
Over the past ten years I’ve been exploring the vast musical potential of solo drumset playing in the context of composed, fully notated music. Basically I ask other people, composers, who aren’t necessarily drummers themselves, to write music for me to play (you can find lots of examples on my YouTube channel). In these pieces, there is little to no improvisation since each note and therefore everything I play has been meticulously chosen by the composer and written down in the score. It is a really exiting process because each composer brings his or her own musical influences and style into the mix. The music often goes places musically and technically that are outside my natural way of playing, which is both challenging and a lot of fun!
I just released my first solo album called Katana of Choice—Music for Drumset Soloist and it features some of the pieces written for me in this fully notated, composed style. Probably the wildest piece on the album is the title track “Katana of Choice” by the Canadian composer Nicole Lizée. The kit for this piece is a basic five-piece, an acoustic guitar with delay pedal that I hit with sticks, a Korg Kaossilator pad, Stylophone, glockenspiel, balloons I get to pop, and a cap gun. The craziest part of the kit is a gong mounted and played with a double kick pedal setup with metal chopsticks instead of regular beaters! Needless to say, I went through a few pairs of chopsticks while rehearsing this one. “Katana of Choice” also features the awesome Toronto-based percussion quartet, TorQ Percussion. The dudes of TorQ get to play a range of instruments including synthesizers, typewriters, and guitars along with regular percussion, foot stomps, and vocal sounds.
If you head over to redshiftrecords.org/releases/tk456/ you can stream the opening track called “Drum Dances Mov. 1.” This piece is by the New Zealand composer John Psathas and he is drawing inspiration from Chick Corea’s Electric Band with the great Dave Weckl on drums. This piece is super fun to play and lets me fly around the kit while my buds in Architek Percussion keep things groovin’ on vibraphone and two five-octave marimbas.
I really hope you enjoy checking out this music. It has been an amazing adventure collaborating with these composers and putting the album together was a life changing experience. Thanks again to Modern Drummer for letting me share this with you. I wish you all the best in 2018.
If you are interested in hearing more you can pick up the digital album (iTunes, Spotify, etc.) or the 180g limited edition vinyl LP here: redshiftrecords.org/releases/tk456/.
Watch a video of Ben Reimer playing the opening to Katana of Choice in rehearsal here:
Here’s a trippy video made by composer Nicole Lizée to accompany music of Katana of Choice here: