Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #251 - Beak>, "> >"

Yet more from the musical allotment of Geoff Barrow, what a yield this season! Firstly, the Quakers hip hop meta-project; then the Mega City soundscapes of Drokk! And now the second album from Beak>; possibly the most exciting of the three releases. Bristol may have the trip hop, but Portishead has the kraut hop imaginary film soundtracks.

"Spinning Top" starts with the sound of a spinning top before a very satisfying kraut drum and bass rhythm starts up. A touch of the Thom Yorke warbling, which was no stranger to kosmische rock before he broke out the Creep action those years ago. "Yatton" had already been burning down the outside lane in auto cruise control. It's a cracking start, let me tell you, dear reader; a cracking, pulsing, rumbling start.

"Egg Dog" could be the raw electronic soundtrack for a kids' animation that ended up a little more depressing than anyone expected. That kind of situation. Endless elastic loops of sound stretching out into eerie patterns. With live drums adding to the tension. Very DIY and intensive. Every track seems to cover a new angle of the kosmischosphere. All slinky and space age for "Liar" like a serpent made out of 1970s space ships, curving itself against the glint of the sun as its overly-optimistic and outdated systems steam and fizz with antique intent.

There's supposed to be a Beach Boys influence on this album, but I haven't heard it yet. There is a beautiful, senile keyboard making beautiful noises on the rhythmless "Ladies Mile", punching holes through the future it came from, projected out of a different present. Sounds a bit like robot cats having robot sex. A spooky chanting chorus kicks off "Wulfstan II" before a highly-developed masculine bassline shimmies its hips around. Spooky voices continue to rattle around in an imagined forest. There's even time for some damp snare action to keep things ratcheted up. Some very psychedelic ivories are tickled to within licking distance of the edge of the universe.

More quasaring about on "Elevator". "Deserters" blasts out some sandblaster guitar over thoughtful bass and that jazzy kraut drumming again. Perhaps the drums are the most distinctive legacy of krautrock. The guitar is PiL-like: the Seventies PiL, not the current version. "Deserters" is also the only word I successfully make out and quite the Somerset accent it sounds too. Deezzurrturrs. "Kidney" rounds off with skeletal action and big swinging gaps you could drive an ennui through in geological time before swelling up to a horribly big volcanic climax. Nice.

Rating: Kraut Drums out of Raw Electronics

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