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REVIEW: Beak> : >>

By: Jeff Daily
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July 19, 2012

I'm feeling woozy. Is it the raw fish I bought and ate in the car on the way home from the grocery store? All fish is sushi right? Damn my lack of culinary education! It could be central Texas allergies...might cause drowsiness...a rough evening ahead, I better turn on some music and lay down. My mind needs to be distracted.

Beak> (project of prolific Portishead-Geoff Barrow, along with Billy Fuller and Matt Williams) have a new album out on Invada abstractly titled >> and in my time of need it will be the medicine. Chalk it up to alphabetical necessity (Zevon will have to wait), but I've been putting this record off so, no time like the NOW. Beak> have the pedigree and the knowhow to produce something special. Have they?

>> is the kind of album that scratches an itch. (Neu!, er, I mean) Beak> found a German beat and made an entire album around it. I could label this "Krautrock Redux" because that is basically what it all boils down to, Can and Neu! specifically, but is that fair? Critic shorthand is what it is folks.

Let's start with "Wulfstan II" which is the middle point of the album and seven minutes of heavy fuzz bass psyche-rock grandeur. This is good stuff. Organ stabs and a fucked up semi-clean electric guitar break freakout reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's debut, make this a first time listening highlight. Beak> channel acid flashbacks on this tune and explore light show dementia as they jam toward nirvana.

"Yatton" and "Elevator," two cuts so beholden to the motorik model, hardly seem worth discussing, but the charm is evident even within the pastiche. Keyboards are the proverbial cherry on top throughout the album because they conjure left field tones of epic proportions...good show Mr. Williams! "Deserters" is one of the non-Kraut rockers on the album and damn messed up too. Scary trips abound with grindingly metallic guitar and loud/soft dynamics.

Overall, my vertigo evening was made tolerable with Beak>'s new music (except for that final song, "Kidney," dang No Wave shit mangled my dreams). Sure, the album is a product of skilled musicians jamming in a style perhaps too close to their personal record collections, but so what...if it aint broke...

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