Beak>: >>>> [Album Review]

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Temporary Residence LTD [2024]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Album Overview: Beak>, formed by Geoff Barrow, Billy Fuller, and Will Young, emerged from Bristol with their experimental rock sound. Known for their improvisational approach, the band members have been involved in various musical projects, bringing a diverse set of influences to the group. Over the years, they have built a reputation for their distinctive soundscapes and live performances. >>>> is Beak>’s fourth studio album, released as a surprise without prior singles or promotional tracks. The album was created to be experienced as a complete piece rather than as individual songs. Initial writing and recording took place in a secluded house in Wales before continuing at Invada Studios in Bristol. It is a brilliantly odd record that can be just as weird at times as it is mesmerizing. >>>> uses space wisely; every song has time to shift and develop. The record is meant to be absorbed in its entirety, with nuances that become apparent after multiple listens. If you’re looking for a unique album to check out this year, >>>> is that record that demands and rewards your attention. Multiple listens will highlight the depth and intricacies of Beak>’s latest work. And it should be noted – the album cover is an instant classic!

Musical Style: The album features a blend of krautrock (a genre of experimental rock that developed in Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s), electronic, prog and psychedelic influences, characterized by repetitive rhythms, ambient textures, and layered instrumentation. Its vocals help guide the entire record as the music creates an immersive atmosphere, aiming to be more of a continuous listening experience rather than a collection of separate tracks.

Evolution of Sound: >>>> marks a return to the band’s early method of creating music without preconceived expectations. This approach contrasts with their previous work, which had been increasingly shaped by their extensive touring schedule. By revisiting their initial spontaneity, the band sought to reconnect with their original creative process.

Artists with Similar Fire: Fans of Can, Neu!, and Silver Apples may find similarities in Beak>’s sound, as well as those who appreciate the more experimental side of bands like The Beta Band, Radiohead, Stereolab, and Broadcast.

Pivotal Tracks: “Strawberry Line,” the album’s opening track, serves as a key piece, setting the pace for the rest of the record. It is a tribute to a beloved pet, Alfie Barrow (featured on the cover), and reflects the personal and reflective nature of the album. The album is designed to be heard as a cohesive whole, with songs that flow seamlessly together. For instance, the mid-album track “Hungry Are We” quickly skirts through genres like indie rock, prog, and improvised jazz. Other tracks, like the beat-heavy “Ah Yeh” and the intense closing track “Cellophane,” maintain thematic and musical continuity, contributing to the overall cohesiveness of the album.

Lyrical Strength: The lyrics in >>>> complement the album’s introspective and atmospheric quality. They often explore themes of identity, memory, and the passage of time, resonating with the reflective and meditative nature of the music.

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Thomas Wilde
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