Album Reviews

Album Review: Beak> – Beak> (Invada Records)

By | Published on Tuesday 20 October 2009


Beak> is effectively a supergroup of Bristol musicians comprising Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, bassist Billy Fuller and Matt Williams, who recorded this album “live in one room with no overdubs or repair, only using edits to create arrangements”. More a collection of instrumental jams than an album of structured songs, there are nonetheless some intriguing and evocative moments to be found in amongst the mood of dark and murky desolation the album conveys.

A number of tracks, including the opening triptych, are wafts of late 60s experimental bad-trip psychedelia with their organ swirls and clattering percussion; even the likes of Broadcast or Stereolab come to mind with Beak’s decidedly retro sound. ‘Battery Point’ is the standout: a shimmering slice of melancholia with shoegazy guitars and delicately caressed drums that quietly builds to something so impossibly iridescent, it would be pejorative to describe it as post-rock, given how bland and unemotive most of that genre is. ‘Blagdon Lake’ meanwhile is built on echoey plangent basslines, its post punk bleakness suggestive of Joy Division jamming to keep warm in a freezing cold derelict factory.

‘Beak>’ will not be quite to everyone’s taste, but it’s rewarding if you persevere with it. MS

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