Benevento Russo Duo- Play Pause Stop
Marco Benevento- Keyboard, Organ, Circuit Benders, Synthesizers
Joe Russo- Drums
Back in 2002, Joe Russo and Marco Benevento teamed up for a one night organ-drum duo at a swanky New York jazz club. They went on to make some of the most awe-inspiring music I have ever heard. If you have heard of this band, you may have seen them on a hippie jam festival lineup next to bands like Medeski, Martin, and Wood, String Cheese Incident, and Umphreys McGee. Shoot, they even played a handful of shows with Mike Gordon of Phish. Don’t be fooled folks! The Duo sounds nothing like any of those bands, and you don't have to be on drugs to enjoy them. I will go as far as to say they are an oddity that is unparalleled across all fields of music. Incorporating elements of electronic, modern-jazz, and rock, these guys manage to create a sound that ventures into uncharted territory. Many of their jam-band concert buddies have some technical talent that is conveyed brilliantly during live shows, but they’re a chore to listen to on CD. The Duo has outdone all of the bands mentioned above by creating an album full of well written songs that can be expanded upon to enhance the experience of their live performance (which is phenomenal).
Marco is one of those guys who only comes around once in a long while. He is what makes this seemingly simple combo create the sounds of beauty, chaos, and tranquility. The first track, Play Pause Stop gives the listener a good idea as to what the album is all about. It starts out with a melancholic yet catchy keyboard bit, and with the help of Joe Russo’s unpredictable and powerful drumming, you feel like you’ve slipped into a dream. There’s an interesting segue in the middle which highlights Benevento’s more experimental and non-sensical side (which is touched upon much more on the group’s previous record). The structure of this song is reminiscent of some post-rock in that they expand on a similar jingle throughout the song while reaching euphoric climaxes and sinking into deep ambient sections. Don’t get too excited, kids, this is not a post-rock album at all.
Let me also complement Joe Russo for a moment. He takes the styles of modern jazz and funk drummers such as Stanton Moore and somehow melts them into Marco’s wall of sound. Russo is able to show off technical ability without sounding too pompous, which people like Stanton Moore are definitely guilty of.
The chemistry between these two is amazing. When Marco seems like he's drifting off into some otherworldly deam land, Joe picks up with a well placed drum beat to put his feet back on the ground. Neither of these guys are very orthodox in their playing style, and its very hard to pick up on their influences, which makes this such a unique piece of music.
Although this album is entirely instrumental, it captures a lot of emotion, which is incredibly rare in the world of modern jazz, jam bands, and electronic music. There are moments on this album when I’m on the verge of crying (Soba) and there are some parts where I’m overwhelmed with ecstasy (Echo Park). Play Pause stop has the perfect blend of melody, catchiness, and intricacy which make it listenable in nearly any situation. Its easy going enough to put on just as background noise, but it also has enough going on to make repeated listens very enjoyable.
Play Pause Stop
Something for Rockets