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Published: 2005/05/08
by Brad Farberman

Best Reason To Buy The Sun – Benevento/Russo Duo

Ropeadope Records

Contrary to its title, you won't need a "best reason" to pick up the Benevento-Russo Duo's new disc.

Any reason will do. If you love rock music, for instance, you're in the right place. Legend has it that Joe Russo's drumming on the album is capable of making any head bang, no matter how square the body.

And if you're down with the mellower stuff from dudes like Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, you'll find the disc indispensable. Best Reason is littered with meditative electronica and skittish beats that provide a counterpoint to the Duo’s trademark noisy post-jazz.

Even Beck fans got to shout. The record was produced by former Beck drummer Joey Waronker and former Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel was tagged in on some cuts ("The Three Question Marks" and "My Pet Goat").

But what's Brad's reason, you ask? It's simple: I've been waiting for this. I and countless other Duo fans have watched the coolest New Jersey transplants on the block evolve from punky jazzbo Radiohead fans into straight-up innovators over the past few years, and we all knew the day would come when Marco (organistics) and Joe (percussonics) would deliver the goods on plastic.

Make no bones about it: a proper studio album was due. And it was well worth the wait; they knocked it out of the ballpark with this one.

And first at bat, of course, is "Becky." What a way to set it off: an electronic pots-and-pans sample melts into driving live drums as left-hand bass runs are coated in distorted, nasal Wurlitzer piano. The monster wakes up and it's time to eat some humans.

Humans who are making out, or about to get it on, preferably (that's how it goes in those movies, right?). And what better music to set the mood than "Sunny's Song"? It should come as no surprise that they used to call this one "Love Song" — three warm chords ring out, the bass and kick turn in steady eighth notes, ethereal organ tattoos a simple melody cross the night sky, the tune swirls and churns and peaks and breathes.

All in a day's work for the Benevento-Russo Duo. For every badass freak-out, there's more than a few tender moments in Duo-land, and that's the way it should be. These guys know that love's in need of love today (hi Stevie!) and they're doin' what they can to help out. Plus, you can't rock all the time. The world’s not ready.

Similarly, I doubt the world's ready for what's commonly referred to as "Skerik." The bugged-out critter shows up here in fine form, however, contributing "wailing fucking" saxophone to the heavier-than-thou "Scratchiti" (metal wishes it were this good) and the odd-time "The Three Question Marks." The results are (ropea)dope.

What else is dope is the ready availability of acoustic piano on this record. Us Marco fans are used to his organ skills, and more recently his tricked-out Wurlitzer, but it's such a treat to hear him play piano ("The Three Question Marks" is all about it, and there’s some sweet snippets on "Vortex" and the bonus "Mephisto," too).

Also (piano aside), this whole record is a treat. The truly gorgeous glitchscapes of "My Pet Goat" are a treat. The chill-out jazz of "Bronko's Blues" (replete with Mike Dillon's vibes) is a treat. Best Reason to Buy the Sun is a gift; it’s a special record, it’s full of love, and it won’t leave your stereo any time soon, I promise. The Duo did it their way, and the results are some ear candy if I ever ate any. Like fellow New Jerseyite Carl (Aqua Teen anyone?), they don’t need no instructions to know how to rock. And you don’t need no instructions to know how to listen. So kick back and dig this record, over and over again.

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