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September 11, 2012

New Music Tuesday: Marco Benevento & Ben Arthur

Marco Benevento on TigerFace


Marco Benevento

Marco Benevento


TigerFace is a really different record for me. It's my first record that I've ever made with vocals on it. Granted there are only two songs with vocals among ten tracks, but it still feels like brand new territory and somewhat of an achievement for me. I should also mention that singing the melodies is the jaw-dropping Kalmia Traver (Rubblebucket), who's been joining us here and there for the live show too.


I recorded TigerFace over the course of two years, so I had the opportunity to really dive into the tracks and experiment with many different sound options. I also opened up the floor to a lot more musicians than I had on previous albums and consequently wound up recording "Soma" with drummer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake). I had never met John before or played with him, but he was such a pro and an amazing listener. He dialed in some great sounds at his studio in Chicago, which inspired the name of the song.

Mike Gordon (Phish) was testing out some incredible handmade basses at my house one day and he wound up tracking some bass at my studio, so that's how "Escape Horse" came to life. Andrew Barr (Barr Brothers), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) and I were on a West Coast tour and decided to leave two days to track out in LA with the incredible engineer Tom Biller (Fiona Apple). He was able to get us time at East West Studio. We tracked in Studio Three where the Beach Boys recorded Pet Sounds. It's a narrow, small room with some amazing sounding gear; we really got deep into it in that space.


During the recording my family and I moved up to Saugerties, NY from Brooklyn. The house has a little side house that became my room to work in anytime, so just having the studio so close to the house really helped me try a lot of things with the tracks that I might not have been able to do living in the city. Not to mention that being surrounded by nature is freakin' awesome!

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Marco Benevento is a pianist, organist, composer and songwriter from New York whose music with the Benevento/Russo Duo and others spans jazz, funk, indie rock and all points in between. Visit him on the web: marcobenevento.com

TigerFace was released September 11, 2012. Pick it up at Amazon or The Royal Potato Family.

Listen to Marco Benevento's ASCAP Audio Portrait from 2008.


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Ben Arthur on If You Look for My Heart


Ben Arthur

Ben Arthur


In 2008 I did a series of shows at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York where I read excerpts from a short story I'd written in between the songs I performed with my band. It was a lot of fun, but it always felt somewhat cobbled together. Although there were small, interesting intersections, the stories didn't really work with the music, and I started thinking about how to do a music and fiction project that was designed from the bottom up as a single work.

Four years later, I'm about to release If You Look for My Heart, an interrelated concept album/novel. The two sides are densely interrelated, but (if I did my job well) should each stand independently. Like The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon, when brought together, the hybrid work unfolds in new ways.


The only thing someone listening to the album alone might notice is that there are a lot of special guests on the lead vocals, as I wanted to insert songs into the narrative of the novel, and didn't want to write about myself. Luckily I have a lot of talented friends, so I was able to get Aesop Rock, Bobby St. Ours and Rachael Yamagata to lend their voices. The fact that the songs appear in the narrative - and are literally IN the eBook - also allowed me to indulge my propensity for eclectic music styles. And the album allowed me to continue my long collaborations with producer Mike Crehore, who works with me on the songwriting web series Dubway Days and Mac Pro Video's SongCraft.

I always know I'm on the right path artistically when I'm both scared and excited. And this project scared the hell out of me, but was truly fascinating, and unlike anything I'd ever done before.

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New York singer-songwriter-author Ben Arthur has released five previous albums and one novel, performed on national television and the internationally syndicated radio program Acoustic Café, and has shared the stage with artists including Dave Matthews, Tori Amos, Bruce Hornsby, Shawn Colvin, Toots and the Maytals and Sophie B Hawkins. Visit Ben Arthur on the web at benarthur.com.

The interrelated album and novel components of If You Look for My Heart were released on September 11th. Readers who purchase the eBook version can listen to the songs embedded into the text via iPad, Kindle or iPhone.