Thursday 11 August 2011


I had no idea that this band even existed, the UK-based BEAK>, until a couple of days ago. More to the point, I had no idea that it was formed and is fronted by Geoff Barrow from Portishead. Why? I have no idea - I guess if you don't look you don't find.

So I had a wee listen to their 2009 self-titled debut album and was super impressed at the way everything sounded - raw and energetic, but well-produced and polished at the same time. It's a kind of minimal mix of strong bass mixed with erratic beats that all provide foundations for washed-out vocals, harsh effect-laden whipped-up guitars and other ambient sounds that all provide for a pretty majestic experience, I've gotta say.

It runs through all sorts of genres, from the wonderful pure synthtastic electro of opener 'Backwell' to the psyched-out ambient dub of 'Ears Have Ears'. The psychedelic grunge post-rock spook-fest that is 'Ham Green' comes out of nowhere and fills the air with real crunchy bass some ethereal just-in-earshot yelling and a lovely bit of heavily phased guitar solo madness towards the end. It's that sound that you can't get away from though, that triumphantly energetic atmosphere that seems too good to be true.

But it is true. Geoff Barrow and bandmates Billy Fuller and Matt Williams recorded the album "live in one room with no overdubs or repair, only using edits to create arrangements." So that's how they get that amazing sound, like you're listening to a live take - BECAUSE IT IS ONE. All the songs were also written in Bristol during a 12 day period, meaning that this band just goes up and up in my estimation - there's a lot of talent here. Even the pure noise of 'Barrow Gurney' is cool to listen to, acting as a scuzzy introduction to the chilled and gentle lounge chants of 'The Cornubia'; yes, they sure know how to create a dynamic.

The album ends on strangely dystopian tribal electro vibe, it becoming the final echo you hear before the music fizzles out - its first half cries with beats and bass, the second is bristling with harsh experimental electronic noise, reverb and distortion flying around until the last second.

But the stand-out track, for me, is the understated buzzing fly presence of 'I Know'. Carried through to its end by a galloping skiffly sped-up hip-hop beat, this is the perfect song to put you in a daze and keep you there - it's very easy to lose track of time listening to this song. There are some wonderful Ian Curtis-esque vocals skulking in the background that drop quietly with the bass that provides the beef for this brilliant song.

So, as you can tell, this is definitely worth a listen. And being the nice guy that I am, I've shared the album below, along with the track listing. Enjoy these sultry sounds.

1. Backwell - 06:14
2. Pill - 05:34
3. Ham Green - 06:27
4. I Know - 05:01 (could've been 0:30 - could've been 10:43)
5. Battery Point - 07:10
6. Ears Have Ears - 04:22
7. Iron Acton - 05:00
8. Blagdon Lake - 04:43
9. Barrow Gurney - 02:01
10. The Cornubia - 04:00
11. Dundry Hill - 07:37
12. Flax Bourton - 02:49

• Check BEAK> on Bandcamp
And also on Myspace
• And here's their little Wikipedia page

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  1. Thanks Clare - glad you're enjoying everything. Content at a pretty low volume at the moment but will be stepping up soon! Keep an eye on this one ;)