Beak> and Drokk
Two albums (and a rare joint review by us) whose common denominator is the brilliant Geoff Barrow (he of Portishead fame, which you should already know).
Beak>:Beak>> (reviewed by angrybonbon)
Firmly placed in the past-future, Beak>’s second album (Beak>>) takes the sound so wonderfully honed by their first (which garnered an honourable mention in our end of year list in 2009) and tweaks and extends it. Here throbbing analogics (especially on ‘Ladies’ Mile’) seem to take more emphasis, whilst the motorik pulse of bass and driving drums maintain their presence. With distanced and airy vocals akin to Simeon of Silver Apples and a production shorn of high-end studio wizardry, the overall impress seems shot through with natural hallucinogens that sends you, with a sinister curl to your entrenched grin, into a woozy distracted state. Only the bass on ‘Wulfstan II’ and the thrashed guitar finale of ‘Spinning Top’ are there to stir you from the splendid stupor the whole album induces.
It’s brilliant. You’ve read lots of better reviews than that, so just buy it here.
Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One (reviewed by jkneale)
Barrow has also been working with fellow Bristolian Ben Salisbury, who composes music for films and TV, on the Drokk project. Those of you who are already Squaxx dek Thargo will know that ‘Drokk!’ is the favourite exclamation of Mega-City One’s most famous lawman, Judge Dredd, from the British comic 2000AD. Appearing in 1977 2000AD, and Dredd in particular, reflected the cynical, aggressive, tone of UK and US popular culture at that time. In a sense if they’d made a 2000AD or Judge Dredd film at about that time, this is what the soundtrack would have sounded like: tense, brooding, or hyperactive in turns. John Carpenter’s film soundtracks of are a useful reference point, particularly Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and Escape From New York (1981). It’s an increasingly common reference point these days but it’s clear Barrow and Salisbury not only know their history (they’re old enough to have been through the electro/Carpenter love-in the first time) but are capable of making something new with their vintage synthesizers. Interestingly there’s no mention of Dredd here at all – presumably a copyright issue – but the titles make it clear he’s the hero. Scrotnig – you’d have to be a real grexnix not to like it.
Buy it here