Benevento/Russo Duo

Play Pause Stop [Japan]

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The Benevento Russo Duo has the same instrumental approach to things as, say, the Dresden Dolls -- keyboards and drums -- but the comparisons pretty well end there. Marco Benevento and Joe Russo have already gotten the seal of approval from members of both the Grateful Dead and Phish; if anything, they follow in the vein of another group lauded by both, Medeski, Martin & Wood, and like them are, in the end, making more interesting albums than their patrons. Instrumentals that draw in equal measure from mellow jazz-funk and more energetic rock & roll in a '70s FM vein are the group's stock and in trade, and unsurprisingly make up the twosome's latest, Play Pause Stop. The opening title track is actually one of the best, as well as one of the longest numbers, a sweetly epic jam that's a bit like their take on space rock, with Benevento's midsong break sounding somewhere between a warm sunrise and a crashing comet. The rest of the album makes its way from there, and while Play Pause Stop isn't the second coming it is a perfect summer listen in a way, balancing between more active and calmer arrangements, feeling like a late, lazy summer evening spent alternately in the car and chilling by the side of the road. "Soba" is a good example of both at work, most of the song being a glazed midtempo flow before shifting in the final minute to a hyperactive rush forward that showcases Russo's drumming in particular. Other enjoyable tracks include "Powder," which features guitar prominently in the arrangement and makes for a nice twist on the general approach, and "Something for Rockets" which, like the opening song, has a soaring feeling to it that really is the duo at its best. [This is the Japanese version of the album.]

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