Words by Alex Napoliello

After one spin of Marco Benevento’s fourth LP, Between the Needles and Nightfall, the Brooklyn-based composer’s latest solo endeavor appears a bit monotonous. After several spins, however, the monotony subsides and the depth of the various instrumental harmonies surface carrying the listener on a whirlwind of psychedelic jazz infusion.

What sets Benevento apart from typical jazz artists is his improvisational exploration of electronics. Benevento experiments with various gadgets, like an Atari console or a basic Casio Keyboard, to conceive unique twists in an otherwise solid foundation of classical jazz.

What makes Marco Benevento similar to other jazz artists is he refrains from lyrics, allowing the instruments to do the talking. On his latest effort, Benevento’s piano melodies replace vocal harmonies, and his years of training at Berklee show that although he is a bit of an experimentalist, his roots are cemented in the classics.

The slow build up and crescendos in “Greenpoint” and “Between the Needles & Nightfall” show off Benevento’s classical side while his contemporary side resonates in “Numbers”. The darker side of Benevento shows itself in a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” and “Wolf Trap”. Meanwhile, “Isla Frost” and “Music is Still Secret” are softer, bedtime hymn-like tracks.

It’s hard to put a finger on a description of each one of these tracks because the album is full of sudden twists and turns. There are so many ups and downs that it would fit perfectly as a movie score for an action thriller.

Or maybe Benevento would rather the album be left open for interpretation or leave the listener with a slew of unanswered questions. Perhaps the sudden anti-climactic finish on the final track is a nod to the films that utilize this technique in order to leave the viewer baffled and confused; the same kind of ‘what’s supposed to happen next?’ feeling millions received after the final episode of “The Sopranos” or the Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men”.

In a recent interview, Benevento told The Waster, “music is a secret way of talking to people that will never be decoded.” If you were to sit and attempt to decode Between the Needles and Nightfall, it would surely ruin the experience. This record is about individualism (musically speaking) and taking a well-respected past time, adding new age ideals, and fine tuning it in a way that leaves the listener in confounded admiration.

Marco Benevento
“Between the Needles and Nightfall”
Royal Potato Family Records
© May 11, 2010




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