|Open||In Decay|| |
|Palace Chalice||Planet High School|| |
|Huron River Drive||Huron River Drive|| |
|Feeling's Gone||For Now|| |
|Wanted Exotic||Moving Mountains|| |
|Patricia's Thirst||Rhine Gold|| |
|Choir Of Young Believers|
On Beams, basslines that switch between prowling post-punk and slithering funk, along with slash-and-prickle guitars and bounding drums, inch Matthew Dear closer to his late-'70s/early-'80s inspirations. Dear's vocals are at their most expressive, imposing, and sinister. If kept to an inaudible volume, they could be used in a slasher flick as the mutterings of an obscene phone caller. When heard as clearly as possible, certain couplets, like the one that forms the teenage wildlife chorus within the burbling "Headcage," leave an immediate impression but are sufficiently creepy no matter their harmless (or just imperceptible) meaning. Despite the increased use of traditional instrumentation -- and the fact that some of the songs would be more suited for avant-rock playlists than DJ sets -- Beams is not worlds away from 2010's equally fascinating Black City. Dear's music still sounds as if it was recorded with cutting-edge means in a squalid bunker beneath scuzzy, terminally damp streets. Opener "Her Fantasy" is, at once, the album's most straightforward and complex song -- a simple four-four thump dressed with several elements swimming throughout to chaotic, dizzying, Moodymann-at-a-carnival effect. It's one of his most thrilling and detailed dance tracks, and there's some gorgeous shoegaze -- a whole song, really -- buried within it. The bass-driven grooves, including "Earthforms," "Up and Out," "Overtime," and "Get the Rhyme Right," stand out most, but the swashing "Temptation" -- one of those songs that would be out of place anywhere but last -- manages to be just as immense.
Andy Kellman, Rovi
A haunting sense of the past plays into Tycho's Dive, starting with a relatively recent vintage, the music is informed by the likes of Boards of Canada before stretching back—way back—into something more paleolithic. The sound is dusty and spacious, with beats that bellow big, but fan out more than stomp down; and various adornments—cooing synthesizer lines, almost-folk acoustic guitar, atmospheric ambient washes—coalescing in ways that scan as personal and warm.
– Andy Battaglia, Google Play
"The Third Time" starts Choir of Young Believers' Rhine Gold with the promising combination of slow keyboard washes and drones and a sudden, sweeping (and not entirely falsetto) vocal, an appropriately momentous start to what feels like a very chilled listening experience -- like what Sigur Rós would sound like if they aimed for a bit of focused clarity. When a melody kicks in, it almost sounds like something from a historical epic from India, continuing to shift into a sweet, string-plucked descending bridge. The fact that "Patricia's Thirst" shifts into a post-punk squelch-bass-power pop number of sorts demonstrates how the production is key here, where the elements sound old but the mix and recombination feel agreeably new. While the album starts on a seemingly forbidding or at least dramatic note, what's interesting is how it balances out the reserved with the enveloping; a song like "Sedated" may have elements related to the title, but there's a constant buzz of activity, with the lead bass, steady piano in and out, sudden string bursts, and lead vocals carrying everything easily to a sweet chorus. "Have I Ever Truly Been Here" ends up taking a calm, epic rock touch based around acoustic elements, thanks to the backing washes introducing space -- Coldplay done right, in essence -- while "The Wind Is Blowing Needles" takes a quiet funk turn and the title track ends on a very slow, contemplative note, like the flipside of the opening in that it draws everything to a close, with strings swooping then holding a steady tenseness. Meanwhile, the combination of pure Motorik and snaky bass (not to mention the synth bursts and the singing) on "Paralyse" give a further sense of how elegantly they recombine -- especially when they suddenly but perfectly shift into a couple of drumless acoustic guitar/vocal breaks; at first straightforward, then slightly woozier/weirder toward the end, and finally moving into a slow final wind-down.
Ned Raggett, Rovi