If you thought keyboardist Marco Benevento and drummer Joe Russo's duo
made some noise, you ain't heard nothing yet. If Best Reason To Buy The Sun
(Ropeadope, 2005) offended you, step away
from the speakers. Benevento was only warming up.
When Benevento arrived in New York in 2001, he studied piano with Joanne Brackeen and Brad Mehldau and Invisible Baby is the piano trio album he says he's always wanted to make. But don't be fooled. On the disc, he's accompanied by the exuberant post-rock drummers Matt Chamberlain (five tracks) and Andrew Barr (three tracks), and the electric bass is played by the murderously heavy Reed Mathis.
Benevento himself spends almost as much time on Mellotron, Wurlitzer, combo organs, circuit bent toys, and other electric keyboards as he does on pianowhich is, anyway, mostly fed through Leslie speakers, projector amps, spring reverbs and custom tape effects.
This is, however, no mindless thrash; it is a carefully arranged, multi-layered affair. The disc overflows with sonic and rhythmic adventures, morphing dynamics, surreal humor, psychedelic colors, melody, joy and a lust for life. A couple of sweeping, stadium-sized ballads complement the overall full-throttle delirium.
The album also contains in one track, "The Real Morning Party," a certifiable hit single, Benevento's "Rockit" for 2008. A true slice of retro genius, the track evokes 1960s pop auteurs Phil Spector and Joe Meek; the first in the quasi-symphonic wall of sound created by the overdubbed trio, the second in the naive, space-age loopiness of the lead keyboard, a Farfisa Fast 2, which plays not one, but two ridiculous, trite going on genius, one-hit-and-you're-hooked little melodies. Just when you're thinking things can't get any better, Barr closes the track with an unhinged, John Bonham-like, doubled-up drum solo.
There are seven other tracks, all of them creative, primo, stone delights. To call Invisible Baby a jam band disc would be to underestimate it. It's beyond jam bandlike Ken Kesey painted on the front of the bus, it's further. It will twist your synapses, feed your head, and turn on your love light. It will, in short, make you feel glad to be alive.
Personnel: Marco Benevento: piano, Mellotron, circuit bent toys, electric keyboards, church pump organ, banjo; Reed Mathis: bass; Matt Chamberlain: drums (1, 3, 5, 6, 8); Andrew Barr: drums (2, 4, 7).