Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Marco Benevento encourages you to lose yourself in the sound

January 6, 2020

The joy of Marco Benevento’s music is that it needs no real understanding. Heading into the artist’s latest album Let it Slide, it’s best to just let go and fall into the thirteen tracks of this release via Royal Potato Family.

With longtime bandmates Dave Butler (drums) and Karina Rykman (bass), Benevento creates a time capsule combination of psychedelic 1970s vibes and 1980s vibes. Produced brilliantly by Leon Michels (The Arcs, Lee Fields), these previously-eclectic, now-retro styles contain similarities that harken back to the iconic John Lennon. 

The harmless opener leads directly into the freefall that is the hypnotic “Solid Gold”: driven percussion, fuzzed vocals, and acid-trip synthesizers. Disconnected and yet sexually charged, there’s a perfect analog feel. Complete as a work of performance art, “Baby Don’t Make Me Wait” struts that lightning-in-a-bottle energy, tripping it into a weird disco where Manson might have been.

“Gaffiano, Pt. 1” expends its reference to fine Italian leather in 54 seconds, then is followed by “Say It’s All the Same”. The strongest jazz-pop cut on the album is the James Bond-esque “Humanz,” with its heavy piano-driven jazz circling around middle eastern melodies disguised in horns that grab each backbeat. In moments like this–with flute hovering in the background mix– surrealists could imagine Salvador Dali’s clocks melting with each note.

“Gaffiano, Pt. 2” echoes with a harpsichord sound in forty-one seconds. It’s another break in the action for listeners to regroup, before sliding into “Send It On A Rocket.” “Rocket” stands as a statement in discordant spacetime. Lush harmonies are wrapped in subtle drums existing nearly in the background with Benevento’s soaring synthesizers reverberating into the universe. Strange but cool.

Imagery drives this record. The first listen of “Lorraine” seemed to be a throw-away song thought, but it helped me really get the story of the record on the fourth time through. Is that too much investment before a track grabs in today’s app-driven world of technology? This is not music for instant gratification.

Thirteen songs suggest there is something for anyone in today’s one-song-at-a-time culture. David Bowie fans will languish in the perfection of “Nature’s Change,” with its driving percussion and ethereal vocals. Nearly through the album, a heavier shift leads the mood into an introspective psychedelic feel. Benevento, known for intensely intricate synthesizer composition and performance, does not disappoint.  

Lightly drifting into a modern-day neo-sixties ambiance with “You Got Away” makes saying adieu to this smart pop record seem okay. Lilting melodies juxtaposed against falsetto led into closing thoughts in the form of “Gaffiano, Pt. 3” with its forty-one seconds of pizzicato. However, nothing gets away here; each song contributes to the nuanced progression of musical story Benevento and his skilled musicians weave on Let It Slide. —Lisa Whealy

Catch him on tour:

12/29 – New York, NY – Le Poisson Rouge

1/16 – Austin, TX – Parish *

1/17 – Houston, TX – Last Concert Cafe * 

1/18 – New Orleans, LA – Blue Nile **

1/19 – Birmingham, AL – Saturn **

1/20 – Knoxville, TN – Open Chord **

1/21 – Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle **

1/22 –  Carrboro, NC – Cats Cradle **

1/23 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theatre **

1/24 – Charleston, SC – Pour House **

1/25 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl **

2/6 – Fort Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre

2/7 – Crested Butte, CO – Public House

2/8 – Denver, CO – Cervantes’ Masterpiece

 

^ w/ The Mattson 2

* w/ Mike Dillon Band

** w/ Ian Ferguson

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Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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