Ever since the news broke last year that Marco Benevento would be treating the classic film, House of Usher, to his own personal score and presentation of said score in a public setting, I always wondered how those shows came out. Thanks to cleantones on YouTube, we can see the whole show from October 22nd, 2010 that was filmed at the MASS MoCa during the few times this saw the light of day last year. From this review, it would seem as though the show was an outright success…
Throw in hyperbolic dramatic acting, gothic adornments of the mansion, ever-increasing suspense and intensity, hints of being buried alive and other eerie details and that is the House of Usher that Benevento meticulously studied in preparation for his score.
Benevento in his brilliance was enthralling to watch himself, and was like a child in an electronic candy store, constantly tweaking synth and adding effects to his playing. Mathis banged on wood blocks and metal tins, and their collective sound was building as the House of Usher itself was falling apart.
I wouldn’t say that everyone came away impressed, though.
Many of the offerings at Mass MoCA are challenging, but last night’s screening of the horror film House of Usher with Vincent Price proved that sometimes the emperor has no clothes. Marco Benevento and his experimental rock/jazz electronica-infused hybrid trio managed to obliterate the sound track of the film and chase half the audience out of the Hunter Center before the lights came up after a post-film set by the gang of three.
For all the paraphernalia on stage – old toy instruments and keyboards, a ravaged piano among other things – the music was loud, repetitious and had little to do with the film. The dialog on screen was lost in a haze of drum licks and strange effects that Benevento was constantly tinkering with on the top of his keyboard. The film got so little respect, it ended up being a gimmick to draw people in to hear their music.
Oh yeah? Really?
But the end of the film did not conclude the band’s performance. They continued by accompanying a numbingly mediocre animated film of their own design. Then another. By then, we had been enduring this for some two hours. We and others just walked out. Lingering for a snack in the lobby we heard them crashing and banging on.
It seems this band was clueless about that old show biz concept of leaving the audience hungry. Trust me, we had our fill of Marco Benevento.
As always, I’d recommend you remain your own judge and watch how Marco put together his vision of how the score should have been presented. Maybe it fell flat on the movie buffs in the room, but I’m sure there were plenty of Marco fans raging some Mr. Pibb and Red Vines during the movie.
Check out the playlist here thanks to my man (and resident Marco expert) @jtnt.