Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Daniel Bennett, Timothy Banks, Britt Melewski - The Mystery At Clown Castle

Daniel Bennett Group
If ignorance is bliss then this state of unawareness is also a blessing not a curse for any music listener. Not only does it herald the spirit of adventure but that moment when a new page is turned and discovery is but seconds away. The Mystery At Clown Castle  (Manhattan Daylight Media) provides music, art and lyrical bloodhounds the chance to sniff out a trio of such delights. Daniel Bennett Group are the music creators, while the feast for our eyes is provided by Timothy Banks and poetic dexterity comes courtesy of Britt Melewski.

Live at the Theatre -
Daniel Bennett group
Timothy Banks is an artist best known for his ability to create beautifully quirky illustrations of monsters and strange birds, with that added ingredient of humour thrown in. His work has been recognized by Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, Spectrum 21, 3×3 Magazine, Creative Quarterly, PLAY! Illustration and Showcase 100.  He has illustrated dozens of children’s books, and is the staff illustrator for Paste Magazine. Banks lives and works from his studio in Charleston, SC, USA.  Although he is no Gerald Durrell his menagerie does stretch to two daughters, one crazy pug and the alligators that swim by his house.

Timothy Banks
courtesy of refreshcharleston.com
Timothy Banks has created five Daniel Bennett Group album covers and invariably that includes animals with a twist of the fantastical. Banks was once again the first choice for Daniel Bennett who fronts the group, "I tell Tim about the concept, and he crafts his imagery based on the vibe that I am going for. Timothy always listens to the album as he creates the CD design, perfectly blending music ideas with visual storytelling."

Here on the The Mystery At Clown Castle  he takes a supportive role working around the band and adding the intrigue through dripping line drawings. The quality of penmanship is loose and free creating a sense of levity, it speaks of a more carefree time when murders were the mysteries that nestled in Agatha Christie books and the public's imagination was caught by the light and movement of artists Raoul Dufy and Marc Chagall. Not all is japes and high jinx as every clown will tell you, for what does lurk behind the greasepaint and where did all this red fluid originate.

 Britt Melewski
 courtesy of www.transomjournal.com
Brooklyn-based poet Britt Melewski contributed two poems to The Mystery At Clown Castle album. The poems are "Minor Leaguer" and "Morning". Melewski has been performing with the Daniel Bennett Group for many years and frequently sits in at their monthly performance residency at Tomi Jazz (www.tomijazz.com) in midtown Manhattan. He is one of the busiest poets and organizers in New York City which is unsurprising with a portfolio of work that is funny, creative and emotive yet retaining that accessibility to those who listen.

Daniel Bennett explains, "You will notice that we auto-tuned his voices on Minor Leaguer. My producer, MP Kuo, wanted to give Britt a robotic sound as he read the poem. On "Morning" you can hear Britt and myself screaming (literally) the poem over the pre-recorded band track. I always like to find interesting ways to convey poetry!"

A Nation of Bears -
Daniel Bennett Group
Minor Leaguer satisfyingly punches the holes into the sieve of our sanity, the fluid coherent thoughts leak out and the rocky residue clashes together once rattled. It is discord and a counterpoint to a huge swathe of  The Mystery At Clown Castle album. There is a stilted brevity that contrasts with the more playful Morning that is consumed with a full gob. There are no lonely morsels here and it worth gobbling up, worth shoving into your consciousness like you were a happy pig with a nose in the trough.

Inside The Outside Interlude featuring guest pianist Jason Yeager adds the mystery to proceedings. Before us stretches a flight of stairs toward an unknown location, each dusty brown rise holds a secret and our minds whirr with the unease of closed doors. It is without doubt an album which pulls the vista as wide as its panoramic intentions, so do not go all furtive just yet as the playfulness of Daniel Bennett (Alto Saxophone/Flute/Piccolo/Oboe/Clarinet/Piano), Nat Janoff (Electric Guitar), Eddy Khaimovich (Electric & Acoustic Bass), Matthew Feick (Drums) is pronounced throughout. Flow is the height of that light touch. It casts a northern light which dances like an Aurora on the mind, it has a glow and effervescence that talks of fables rather than circus performers. Do not be mistaken that the clown of the album's title is the kind who dresses up, but is the figure that lurks in all of us.


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