On February 3, Marco Benevento will release Me Not Me, a new studio album featuring his interpretations of songs by artists including My Morning Jacket, Leonard Cohen and Deerhoof among others. The ten-track collection arrives within a year from release of Benevento's critically acclaimed debut studio effort, Invisible Baby. Like its predecessor, Benevento is joined by bassist Reed Mathis and drummers Matt Chamberlain and Andrew Barr. The band recorded at Chroma Sound in Seattle during days off on a West Coast tour earlier this year. Engineer Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Antony & The Johnsons, Phish) mixed the sessions in Brooklyn. Of further note, Benevento takes a giant step into the 21st century with the formation of his own label, The Royal Potato Family (distributed by MRI/Red), for the worldwide release of Me Not Me.
"When I first started touring with the trio, in addition to my own material, there was a great opportunity for me to perform tunes from other artists that I'd always wanted to play, both a combination of older rock songs and modern tunes that are part of our current culture," explains Benevento. "So the next step was to make a record with some of this material. I decided to leave the harmony of the songs pretty close to the originals, but really get into messing with the arrangements. I got into sculpting sound around the original piano parts by using some of my favorite keyboards and re-amping them in interesting ways. This album has more layering and textures than the last one. Bryce and I worked closely in developing that idea as an underlying concept for the music."
Marco Benevento, who first attracted national attention playing Hammond B-3 organ and Wurlitzer in The Benevento-Russo Duo, shifts the focus to acoustic piano with his own trio. Throughout Me Not Me, he proves to be one of the most compelling sonic innovators of his generation, re-imagining the instrument through guitar pickups, delay and distortion effects and a Fender Super Reverb Amp. He shapes and shifts the aural depth of the recording by adding layers of Ace Tone drum machines, Farfisa, Optigan, Mellotron, tack piano and other unconventional keyboards, while using circuit bent toys to develop the emotional character of the songs. Beneath the blanket of colors, the core of the album is the collective energy of Benevento's trio. Reed Mathis, Matt Chamberlain and Andrew Barr provide a take off point for magnetic post jazz improvisations.
The three original compositions on Me Not Me underscore Marco Benevento's inclination for simple pop melodies, multihued sound and playful composition. "Now They're Writing Music" was first debuted in a rough sketch when the pianist was a guest on "The World Cafe With David Dye." Benevento asserts the "toys" themselves wrote the song. The instantly familiar "Mephisto," often performed by The Benevento-Russo Duo, is the closest the album comes to straight-ahead jazz, hinting at 1970's Keith Jarrett. On the other hand, "Call Home" seems to summon the spirit of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Marco Benevento will launch Me Not Me with a residency at Yoshi's in Oakland, appearing every Tuesday night in February with different special guests. Additional West Coast tour dates for February will also be announced shortly.
The track listing for Me Not Me is:
1. Golden (My Morning Jacket)
2. Now They're Writing Music (Marco Benevento)
3. Seems So Long Ago Nancy (Leonard Cohen)
4. Mephisto (Marco Benevento)
5. Twin Killers (Deerhoof)
6. Call Home (Marco Benevento)
7. Heartbeats (The Knife)
8. Sing It Again (Beck)
9. Friends (Led Zeppelin)
10. Run Of The Mill (George Harrison)