Wednesday, 4 July 2012

REVIEW: Beak> - >> - LISTEN

In direct contrast to his other band Portishead and their lengthy gaps between releases, Geoff Barrow's other band Beak>; recorded their second album in just one afternoon. However fans of his best known group will be glad that Beak's second album (an album title that this blogging platform won't let me type) sticks to the familiar dark tones and gloomy atmospherics, but undoubtedly presents itself in a different way. Expect uneasy claustrophobia, droning post-rock bass, Krautrock rhythms and often harsh analogue synths in great measures. 

Opener 'The Gaol' instantly throws you into the album's intense mood with off-key synths that sound like demented ambulance sirens, while the throbbing drive of 'Yatton' provides the record with one of its standout moments and could almost be LCD Soundsystem collaborating with Joy Division. The influence of the latter outfit is at its most noticeable when Barrow sings, his distant eerie voice recalling Ian Curtis as well as bearing hints of The Beta Band's Steve Mason. The ghostly moan of the vocals is just one notable feature of 'Spinning Top', a slice of dusty psychedelic trip-hop with an insistently repetitive bassline, and the voice is coated in bleak vocoder for the downtrodden drums and funereal keys of 'Eggdog'. 

The pacy driving rhythms of 'Liar' are topped off with creepy D.A.F.-like synth, stopping just before it gets too much, while 'Ladies Mile' with its woozy weary electronic notes, is almost like something from side 2 of Bowie's 'Low', ambient yet strangely unsettling at the same time. 'Wulfstan II'' is made up of a crude and muddy bassline, distant mantra-like vocal chants and guitar that every so often rages into action, threatening to bite hard as the listener is placed smack-bang in the middle of a terrifying nightmare. The relentless mototik beat and hypnotic buzz of 'Elevator' provides another highlight, demonstrating the Can/Neu! influences brilliantly, while 'Deserters' is possibly the most Portishead-like thing here, full of gloom and foreboding menace, built on more intense trip-hop rhythms. The sludgy bass and brooding apocalyptic noise of the closing 'Kidney' provides a suitably downbeat ending and leaves the listener wondering just what sort of misery could inspire such overwhelmingly doomy sounds. 

If you're looking for something totally at odds with the hollowness of this summer's Jubilee and Olympic celebrations then Beak's sophomore effort could be just what you're looking for. 8

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