When the recent Yorke, Dorfmeister, Reznor associated records (Amok, Odeon, Welcome Oblivion) have been only partially impressive to near disappointments, it’s comforting to discover a Barrow associated very impressive minor gem of a record. BEAK> is the trio made of Geoff Barrow, Billy Fuller (Fuzz Against Junk) and Matt Williams (Team Brick). Barrow’s prime project is Portishead—a band that takes the literal forevers between records. So, understandably, there’s no Beth Gibbons here trip-jazzing her reds and blues (which, just for the record, there’s nothing quite like it). BEAK>’s >> genre hops krautrock to funk, setting hazy vocals and chants to synths, brooding guitars, motoriks and whatnot, all the while staying consistent and precise its entire play length, and rewards multiple listens with plentiful pleasant yet strange discoveries.
Beach House’s Bloom didn’t woo me the first time I’d heard it last year. Its Ethereal Wavey dominance (that I perceived) over Dream Pop vibe wouldn’t sit well with me and so maybe I switched to playing either Emika or Fever Ray before the record could reach one full twirl. Blame it on my Mazzy Starry idea of Dream Pop, but now that I’ve listened to the old Beach House records I had to exclaim how can that be and listen again to Bloom. One twirl, then I twirled it over and over. After six or so full proper twirls over a span of seven days, I belatedly acknowledge, this was one of the best records put out last year. And now having listened to their output in its entirety, Beach House joins my (precious) list of bands I shouldn’t be too vocal about, reason being would one still be listening to what everyone else’s going to be listening to? Now coming back to Bloom—while it likely wouldn’t instantly interest in its entirety a Beach House neophyte—in retrospect, it’s crisper sounding while still tonally very Beach House, moody, sonically hitting soundscapes’ peaks and valleys, drifting, dulled, lively and atmospheric. Legrand’s gravelly, at times contralto, at other times towering vocals, Scally’s often blasting keys and chords, Franz’ slow drumming alongside their harmonies make Bloom at the very least shamanic.