Rehearsals boost experimentation

“The kick [drum] will set the mood for an entire electronic song,” Jason Reed Milner of Irene & Reed says. “You’ve got to have it just right.”

Using a synth drum kit program, he flips through all varieties of “uhn” and “tiss” sounds as if flipping through TV channels. He’s looking for the perfect level of bass tone to form a firm foundation that will drive the rest of a new song. “Once you’ve found it,” he says, “you don’t have to change it later. If you do, it’ll change the whole song.

Toying with an electronic composition while breaking temporarily from live piano rehearsals for Irene & Reed’s 2010 Closer to Home debut brings a much-needed calm to the band. With music interests and backgrounds running the gamut from folk and blues to synthpop, industrial, EBM and alt-rock, the duo’s sojourn into their futuristic counterparts makes singer-songwriter Leslie Benson want to dance.

“I just want to write one song that really makes me move,” Benson says, “something completely different than anything I’ve ever done before.”

To Milner, it’s common ground. “That’s what I did for 15 years,” he says.

While the focus of Irene & Reed remains steady on the release of Closer to Home on hard discs (physical CD copies) in May and on live shows planned throughout the Midwest this summer and fall, the musicians are still busy pushing themselves as songwriters.

“Whether you hear it live, on album two or through a yet-to-be-named side project,” Benson says, “we’re kicking things up a level.”

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