Review: BEAK> <KAEB

Toying with their very identity, BEAK> have released a split EP with – yes, you’re reading this right – themselves.

Divided, reversed, and rearranged, the record is presented as two very separate halves. <KAEB might (at least at the core) be the same members, but they’re very much a different band. Showcasing two very different sides to their musicianship, Geoff Barrow, Billy Fuller, and Matt Loveridge have forged something entirely unique.

Stuttering into life, opening track “The Meader” inflates with a knowing confidence. Hypnotic and contagious, the track’s driving instrumentation is BEAK> at their most forceful. Vocals switch between soulful cries and howling yelps, layered refrains rising and falling in intensity.

Instrumental “Broken Window”, with all it’s ethereal nuances, is the band at their most proficient. Droning, spiralling, and evolving along echoing rhythms and twanging refrains, the track is a tour de force from a band who’ve proved they’re capable of just about anything.

Case in point: <KAEB. An “alter-ego”, whatever their performers never have been. With “an ever expanding and floating membership” it seems that nothing here is certain. Indeed, not bound by form, or convention, or anything else at all, <KAEB are an ever-more exciting prospect.

It’s obvious right from the start how different these two bands are. From sparse words, commanding refrains, and layered instrumentals, now vocals take the helm. “When We Fall” meanders into existence. Infused with folk refrains and hauntingly echoing words, the track’s gentle melodies and soaring instrumentals are just one aspect of <KAEB’s capabilities.

“There’s No One” is a vibrant change of texture. The echoing harmonies that lead “When We Fall” become the main ingredient of the backdrop, whilst Californian rapper and producer Jonwayne takes point. His surreal words paint a picture of delusion whilst the track ascends into cataclysmic all-out improvisation, before ghostly backing vocals return to usher the track to it’s close.

BEAK> and <KEAB turn a 17-minute release into a venture through more textures than you’d think imaginable, and make it all sound completely natural. With such an open concept and a wide range of tapestries up their sleeves, the only question that remains is how are they going to top this next?

 

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