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Brooklyn-based pianist and sound sculptor Marco Benevento has completed his third full-length studio album in as many years, Between The Needles & Nightfall, available through his label The Royal Potato Family.
Between The Needles & Nightfall was conceived at Trout Recording in Brooklyn, NY where engineer Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Akron/Family) tracked Marco Benevento and his trio, with bassist Reed Mathis and drummer Andrew Barr, over three days. The material was drawn from fragments of melodies and song ideas that Benevento had been collecting throughout the previous year. To achieve the colors he envisioned for these compositions, Benevento recorded on a baby grand piano bolstered by guitar pick-ups, amplifiers and a myriad of pedals and circuit bent toys, while overdubbing Moog, Optigan, Mellotron and Farfisa.
“The two previous records were tracked in two days, but for Between The Needles we had an entire third day to work,” explains Benevento. “Three additional songs were written and recorded in that last handful of hours at Trout. For a musician going to Bryce’s studio is like visiting an amusement park. He’s got all this crazy vintage gear with which we could experiment. Thanks to his genius and all of his Gogginisms we were able to create with no walls, capture with no distraction and transmit with no hesitation.”
After wrapping the sessions at Trout Recording, Benevento then transferred the tracks to his home studio, taking the next two months to cut, loop and shape the pieces into full-fledged songs. As a last step, he’d hand off his work to three of his favorite engineers: Mell Dettmer (Sunn O))), Eyvind Kang), Jesse Lauter (Low Anthem, Elvis Perkins) and Vid Cousins (Amon Tobin, Kid Koala) for final mixes. The results range from the day-glo electro-rock of “It Came From You” to the simply stated lullaby “Ila Frost” to the shimmering Arcade Fire-meets-Brad Mehldau anthem “Two Of You.”
“One of the hardest things about writing music is being able to capture the ideas in the time that they’re happening. If you are unable to document those naturally unfolding moments, they’re often forgotten. I find that most of my favorite improvised melodies are rarely captured. And the reasons vary each time a tune is lost; you forget to press record, something wasn’t plugged in right, you didn’t write it down, you don’t even think about pressing record because you don’t want to ruin the moment,” says Benevento. “It’s as if you’re part of a joke and some of your most favorite musical visions turn into these sacred fleeting moments. That’s probably because what matters more is the moment, rather than the capturing of that moment. All that being said, I feel like I caught a lot of those flashes this time around and I was able to develop them and realize the promise they suggested in that initial spark.”
2009 was a breakout year for Marco Benevento. In February, he released Me Not Me, an album featuring interpretations of songs by My Morning Jacket, Leonard Cohen and Deerhoof among others. Touring it across the U.S., Benevento and his trio made a number of high profile performances, including San Francisco Jazz Festival, Earshot Festival and Carnegie Hall. At the end of ’09, Benevento released his first ever DVD, Live In NYC: The Sullivan Hall Residency, a two hour-plus documentary with performances and interviews from his historical five week 2008 engagement at the downtown New York City venue Sullivan Hall, featuring special guests like Brad Barr, Kaki King, Billy Martin, Stanton Moore and Steven Bernstein. As if all this wasn’t enough, he toured with post jazz cognoscenti Garage A Trois, became a full time member of indie roots pop experimentalists Surprise Me Mr. Davis and welcomed his second daughter into the world.
With Between The Needles & Nightfall, Marco Benevento continues to define himself as one of the most prolific new voices of his era, blurring genres from song to song, and more often from measure to measure, with his own take on simple pop pleasures, dance party rave-ups and art jazz experimentation. He speaks in modern sonic tongues, all cut-and-pasted, tweaked-out and glitchy, but full of wide-eyed wonder that rejoices in the limitless horizons of sound and melody.