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CD Review: Marco Benevento Between the Needles and Nightfall 

(2010, Royal Potato Family Records)

It begins with an acoustic piano, but, good Lord, it doesn't end there. Marco Benevento makes John Cage and Rick Wakeman shake hands with his freewheeling approach to the keyboard. Benevento attaches pickups, processes the sound through piles of pedals, and generally regards convention the way a butcher regards a chicken. But the end result is an eminently melodic gaggle of contradictions. The Brooklyn/Saugerties composer's latest effort, Between the Needles and Nightfall, boasts a colorful cover that makes it look like a children's record, but it contains some very mature music (all of it anchored by his regular rhythm section of drummer Andrew Barr and bassist Reed Mathis). To make Needles, the trio entered Bryce Goggins's Trout Recording and spent three days letting it happen. The ensuing sonic fragments, often just gestures and aphorisms, were looped, edited, and reassembled in the intervening months by Benevento.

The result is, well, wow. The disc opens with the cinematic push of "Greenpoint," where whooshing touches of Krautrock mingle with an effortless piano soundtrack. "Two of You" virtually lifts the "Würm" section of Yes's "Starship Trooper," making acid jazz out of New Age. And "Numbers," which immediately follows, has a piano tone straight out of "Benny and the Jets." Mind you, Needles is not nostalgic. It simply reflects a man with very big ears and a short attention span opening himself to all the music he has inside in head, whether that's a barrelhouse spin on Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" (check Barr's brilliant snare!) or Benevento's own dense, trippy "Snow Lake."

  • (2010, Royal Potato Family Records)


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