Marco Benevento: Me Not Me

By: Dennis Cook

Me Not Me (arriving February 3 on Royal Potato Family Records) begins like a rusty spigot twisting loose. Then, a crystalline flow rushes forth - mineral rich, cool, cleansing. For all his crazy technique and inherent skill, Marco Benevento is above all a fantastically emotional player, and never more so than this set, which begins with his found-sound sprinkled, wonderfully bent take on My Morning Jacket's "Golden," which foams up to an Aphex Twin-like percussion froth, hissing and bleeping romantically all the way. And things never grow less colorful thereafter on this headphone lightshow.

Though he employs Mellotron, Clavinet, Farfisa and circuit bent toys, the core of this swirling mass is Benevento's acoustic piano – an 88-key orchestra he manipulates like an organ grinder works his faithful monkey – and thus a subliminal baroque vibe persists, a callback to Beethoven and Mendelsohn that honors pre-bebop ancestry and finds modern significance for shapes & sounds before Thelonious Monk. Oh, he's in here, too, but Benevento's inspirations are getting much harder to peg as he evolves his own thang.

He's aided significantly by uber-bassist Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) and drummers Matt Chamberlain (Critters Buggin) and Andrew Barr (The Slip), who split the album between them and overlap on "Now They're Writing Music." Together, these two gifted, fabulously interlocking trios ably update the '60s Atlantic/Blue Note mix of jazz and pop music, finding fertile instrumental compost in George Harrison ("Run of the Mill"), Deerhoof ("Twin Killers"), Leonard Cohen ("Seems So Long Ago Nancy"), Led Zeppelin ("Friends"), Beck ("Sing It Again"), The Knife ("Heartbeats") and MMJ, as well as the strongest Benevento originals yet. These cats keep their ears to the ground and draw further modern influence from Squarepusher, Boards of Canada and other electronic ramblers. What Marco and his rhythm team(s) have over pure studio constructions is a pronounced gusto for actual playing in real time. What the studio offers is a chance for contemplative (and even occasionally goofy) experimentation and sizzling performance to merge, slide into one another's grooves and simmer a spell. The end result is Benevento's finest hour to date.

New musical forms are hard to come by. There's mostly variations on themes and styles but Me Not Me could be the start of something truly original. It takes the movie score romanticism of Benevento's studio albums with Joe Russo, a few strains from Mathis' Jacob Fred days, a touch of The Slip's gliding melody and numerous other bits n' pieces to produce a totally absorbing yet surprisingly accessible mosaic that represents the past, present and future in eye-opening ways.

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[Published on: 1/31/09]

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lsamuel3 starstarstarstarstar Sat 1/31/2009 10:52AM
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Wow, fantastic review of what sounds like an amazing album. Can't wait to hear it. a discussion of all things music

rainydaywomen420 starstarstarstarstar Sat 1/31/2009 11:52AM
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cannot wait to hear this marco is absolutely brilliant

toestothenose starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/1/2009 07:28AM
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Splendid review Cook! I love your crafty wind of jazz's rich past into the description of Benevento's style.

The Trio swept me off my feet last year - InvisibleBambino was a spectacular album filled with enough twists and turns to keep things very interesting. These folks Live are something else indeed. I was so moved by Benevento's work and highly reccomend it to all lovers of music.

echo tribe Sun 2/1/2009 09:28AM
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I think Dennis Cook really really really likes this thanks Dennis!!!!!! but your right, this album does rock and I hope that when it comes out every one who is a music fan gets a chance to here it...

Ter Mon 2/2/2009 10:43AM
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I am very interested in checking him out live... are the live shows something you can move too or is it more of a sit back and watch kind of thing? Looks like I may be heading to the Goodfoot this weekend.

joshpotter Mon 2/2/2009 01:13PM
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*Oops* "Twin Killers" is by Deerhoof, not Deerhunter. Technicalities...

Great review, Dennis.

spitz66 Mon 2/2/2009 02:17PM
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"Reed Mathis (tea leaf green)".... :(

everything marco touches is gold and im sure this will be no exception.

spwal starstarstarstarstar Tue 2/3/2009 02:07PM
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Wonderful! I cant wait to get this album. Marco B you rock man!

gabus! starstarstarstarstar Tue 2/3/2009 02:44PM
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Duo is wack compared to Marco's other projects. If this is half as good as Invisible Baby, I'd cut my face just to get a copy.

spwal starstarstarstarstar Tue 2/3/2009 07:46PM
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gabus! agreed... was listening to Invisible Baby in the car this evening and man, what a hellaciously good album. The passion from Marco and team is awe-inspiring!

gabus! starstarstarstarstar Wed 2/4/2009 10:50AM
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respect to choices in drummers. Andrew Barr is a beast with sticks !

pete797 starstarstarstar Wed 2/4/2009 01:57PM
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This trio KILLED it at Yoshi's last night on Oakland. They played a lot of the new material and covers -- great stuff. Can't wait to hear the studio cuts

futhepharmer Thu 2/5/2009 08:11AM
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oh, it's as good as your all hoping. worked at the place that made it. it's a nice little 4 panel wallet.