Benevento/Russo Duo: Play Pause Stop
Butter Problems/Reincarnate Music

The White Stripes isn't the only two-piece making noise out there. Benevento/Russo Duo's Play Pause Stop busts chops too with Joe Russo adding raucous drum thunder to Marco Benevento's … keyboards? Yup, and not only that but a storming instrumental rock album too and, in fact, a follow-up to the Brooklyn-based pair's debut Best Reason to Buy the Sun. No sloppy jams for these two either as Play Pause Stop's primary focus is compositional. If the title cut included lyrics, for example, they'd probably be about heartbreak or loss of some kind, judging by the melancholy Rhodes riff and somber choral line that dominates. Though nominally a rock duo, Benevento/Russo Duo's obviously been ingesting its share of electronic music too, as the song's Ovalesque middle section indicates, and hints of jazz and country crop up throughout the journey too.

No one need worry about the sparse instrumentation leading to a sameness of sound either: in addition to the regular piano arsenal, Benevento dusts off a Mellotron and Wurlitzer (and, in truth, though drums and keyboards constitute 95% of the album's sounds, the duo adds an occasional bit of guitar and bass) while Russo's cymbal showers and rambunctious drumming constitute a one-man percussion army (he seems to channel Keith Moon on “Echo Park”). Gorgeous melodies sail through the 7/4 “Soba and” jubilant “Best Reason to Buy the Sun,” and, if “Hate Frame” goes a little too much off the deep end, Play Pause Stop hardly disappoints otherwise. Enough talk: shut the windows, turn it up, and bask in the euphoric glory of “Something for Rockets.”

September 2006