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Beak> - Beak> CD (album) cover

BEAK>

Beak>

 

Krautrock

1.60 | 6 ratings

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Guldbamsen
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1 stars Improvised Muzak

I only rarely write about 1 star albums, and if I do, it's because the experience of the music let me down - I was expecting something beautiful/interesting or just worthwhile and instead felt that I got screwed. This is one of those, and even if I have an enormous amount of respect for these musicians - it still doesn't quite justify the poor quality of this experiment in sound. Experiment in sound? HA! - try experiment in cardboard and tomatoes without salt....

Beak> is a British act comprised of drummer Geoff Barrow off Portishead, bass man Billy Fuller and finally one Matt Williams taking care of the keys and synths. These are all Bristol boys, and this album was recorded on their home turf in a single room during a 12 day session. They had strict rules concerning this album - meaning no overdubs, - everything had to be live and improvised. The only possibility of rearranging the outcome was editing. Now to a guy like me, who is about the biggest Krautrock head around, this cocktail sounded too good to be true, and having a guy like Geoff Barrow from one of my favourite 90s bands behind the drum-kit - pushed my expectations even further.

Maybe that was my downfall. I was expecting far too much of this record to begin with, because when I first started listening to this album some 3 years ago - I was disappointed beyond words. Strike that, I was almost angry that it didn't sound the way I was expecting it to. My bad - I know. So after lying dormant in some sort of embryonic state, this album has gotten a spin every half year or so, just to give it a fair chance. Yesterday was one of these chances, and it blew it again...

This is everything a Krautrock album shouldn't be: lifeless, without groove, cold and on every listen it simply fails to grab me in any way. My take on this is, that when people make rules about not having any rules, things quickly get confusing - and not in a good way. These guys were perhaps too focused on making a good Krautrock album, that the very confines they set up around it, were part of annihilating the essence of the thing to begin with. Krautrock is about feel and flow, and this thing has neither. It's like taking a stroll down the street. If you start wondering about your footsteps - questioning how you're actually doing what you're doing - things get complicated and caricature like. Just like this music. I'm sorry, if I'm sounding harsh here, but this is truly how I feel about this album.

Yes it's built up around motorik laden beats with chugging bass lines, trying to hit that certain NEU! atmosphere. It also utilises these freely flowing synth sculptures that not unlike Faust and Can try to lift the individual pieces up above the groove - creating that somewhat unique Krautrock dimension, where every part of the music is separated yet still connected in this incomprehensible feel. It tries all these things, but it fails miserably. The drums sound like they are sleeping half the time. I kind of get that they're trying to do what Jaki Liebezeit were doing with his rather unique way of playing monotonous, but this just sounds monotonous. That's the thing! Jaki never sounded dull or droning - he mixed in tiny breaks and invisible beats, which is what made him the amazing drummer he is. Here the result of the drums is just flat and uninspiring. The bass just sort of follows this way of thinking, and this is what really bugs me. There's no fire or real power behind it! Cardboard music! The only track on here that sort of gets it - sort of takes off, yet I'm reaching here for some redeemable qualities - is Battery Point, where things almost work like they were supposed to. Still it is a long way from being great, and that is a damn shame.

I get cranky every time I put this on, because it should have been something completely different from what it turned out to be: which is empty robot Krautrock, that leaves me cold and untouched on every level imaginable.

Guldbamsen | 1/5 |

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