CD Reviews September 2009

MARCO BENEVENTOME NOT MESonic sorcerer Marco Benevento r
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MARCO BENEVENTO

ME NOT ME

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Sonic sorcerer Marco Benevento returns to the recording laboratory with his moody new release Me Not Me. A twisted cover album of sorts, the pianist puts his aural aptitude to work on his own originals, as well as tunes by Beck, Leonard Cohen, and other notable artists. The result is like digital déjà vu — you know you’ve heard these tunes before, but never like this. Backed by his now regular bandmates of Reed Mathis on bass and Matt Chamberlain and Andrew Barr on drums, Benevento ably melds circuit-bent sonics (on “Now They’re Writing Music”) with church-hymned piano parts (on “Sing It Again” and “Run of the Mill”). More than just studio trickery, Benevento’s shimmering soundscapes are fascinating in design, and affecting in their constantly mutating delivery. Me Not Me is a wild, recorded ride you won’t soon forget. Jon Regen (Royal Potato Family, marcobenevento.com )

INFECTED MUSHROOM

LEGEND OF THE BLACK SHAWARMA

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This is what happens when real musicians make aggressive dance music. Though hipsterer-than-thou clubbers label them “psytrance,” Amit Duvdevani and Erez Eisen produce category-defying electronica that engages your cerebrum even as it kicks your gluteus maximus onto the dance floor. On “Poquito Mas,” Pantera-esque rhythm guitar shares sonic space with burbling synth bass, and hard-synced oscillators play riffs that evoke the band’s native Israel. The sliced-up vocal syllables that open “Sa’eed” are a masterpiece of editing, and midway, the track pulls back from fist-pumping frenzy to Duvdev emoting the main verse over a bed of Hammond organ. With lead vocals by Jonathan Davis of Korn, and a beat and bass line that could be KMFDM at their best, “Smashing the Opponent” delivers a pop crossover gem without sacrificing a shred of cred. Whatever expectations of “dance music” you have, this CD will shatter them and make you thankful that it did. A great ride. Stephen Fortner (Perfecto, perfectorecords.com )

VIJAY IYER TRIO

HISTORICITY

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The first Vijay Iyer track to utterly suck me in was the New York pianist’s dirty, inspired cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe,” off of his album Blood Sutra. Vijay’s sinewy improvisations glided and rumbled through the ever-so-familiar chord progression, bringing new vitality to a tried-and-true classic. On Historicity, Vijay expands his approach, bringing a fresh edge to works by Stevie Wonder, Andrew Hill, Ronnie Foster, and M.I.A., among others. Most striking is a metrically twisted, utterly original take on Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” from West Side Story that neither limits itself to the original vibe of sweet longing, nor sacrifices the song’s innocence and soaring, harmonic beauty. If you find your own piano work stuck in a rut, just spin this disc a few times to get your creativity flowing. Michael Gallant (ACT Music, actmusic.com )

KEITH EMERSON

KEITH EMERSON BAND FEATURING MARC BONILLA

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The inner tray card photo on prog-rock giant Keith Emerson’s new CD offers a glimpse of what lies ahead for the potential listener: It’s a shot of Emerson at a firedrenched, flame-engulfed piano. That’s right, Emerson’s chops are still burning hot. A tour de force across varied musical genres, Emerson’s new CD glistens with keyboard wizardry from the opening bar. “Ignition” brims with powerful piano work and shimmering synth textures. “1st Presence” pits pumping organ riffs against the propulsive drive of Greg Bissonette’s drums. Then, “Fuge” recalls the heyday of ELP with a convincing musical conversation between Emerson’s heroic Hammond lines and Marc Bonilla’s blistering guitar work. Keith Emerson Band is a testament to Emerson’s mastery of modern keyboard music, and a tribute to an iconic artist still on the search. Recommended. Jon Regen (Keith Emerson, keithemerson.com )