Marco Benevento, _House of Usher, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY – 8/6
Photo by Jeremy Gordon
Over the past decade, Marco Benevento has emerged as one of the most talented and original musicians out there, and on a Friday night at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Benevento continued to expand his genre-defying musical horizons by performing a new original score for 1960 cult classic movie House Of Usher. The movie, directed by Roger Corman and based on an Edgar Allen Poe short story, seemed to tell the tale of an evil family curse that caused insanity and horrible deaths, although the plot was murky at best. The always smiling, cheery, and enthusiastic Benevento seemed like an odd candidate to make music for such a dark movie, but his score suited the spooky movie brilliantly. Marco treated the new score as an ambitious project, and brought together pieces of old songs, new compositions, and spacey, effect-heavy jams to create a flowing hour and a half long new soundtrack that synced up with the movie flawlessly.
A chunk of Benevento’s new score was made up of new pieces that he had written to suit specific scenes in the movie, but he also managed to sneak in plenty of material from his great new album Between Needles & Nightfall. “Two Of You,” “Numbers,” “Ila Frost,” and “Wolf Trap” from that album were featured prominently. The menacing “Wolf Trap” with its sinister synthesizer line was especially fitting during a dramatic, brutal chase scene in the movie, and the band darted in and out of the gorgeous “Two Of You” throughout the film including during the beginning and end credits.
Benevento performed with his trio, which features Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) on bass and Andrew Barr (The Slip) on drums. The three of them have a special chemistry that cannot be matched, fused from years on the road and three studio albums together. All three are visionaries on their instruments, and their telepathic communication allowed them to turn on a dime and suddenly push the music in new directions, reacting to what was going on in the movie. Barr drummed like an eight-armed machine, and managed to incorporate a variety of percussion toys and special effects to add spooky textures to the music in addition to keeping a steady beat. Mathis meanwhile fearlessly chugged away on bass, sometimes providing steady grooves and other times tossing in creative bass fills, trading wide grins with Benevento as they steered the music into new areas. Marco of course sounded as great as ever, directing the band and creating a world of sounds from his keyboards.
After the movie ended, some fans headed for the exits but those who stayed were treated to a few more songs from the Marco Benevento Trio, including crowd pleaser “The Real Morning Party,” which got fans out of their chairs and enthusiastically dancing. House of Usher was a movie that ordinarily I may have found a little difficult to sit through, but with Marco’s brilliant rescored soundtrack, his lighting guy’s manipulation of the film (complete with projected images and lights to make it a little trippier and visually enticing than the original), and beautiful weather; this event was one of the most perfect nights of the summer.