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Portishead producer and multi-instrumentalist Geoff
Barrow is such a perfectionist that his group has only
managed to release three albums in the past 15 years.
So it's probably good that Barrow and his new band
Beak> are putting some restrictions on themselves; it's
the only way they'll ever get anything done.
Barrow formed Beak> earlier this year with ... Read more in Amazon's BEAK> Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (26 Oct. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Invada
  • ASIN: B002NXX7TI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,110 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

BBC Review

A curious combination of discipline versus limitless scope, the debut album from Bristol conglomerate BEAK> (capital letters and symbolic suffix apparently essential) is quite the curio.

Led by principal point of interest, Portishead protagonist Geoff Barrow, it’s interesting that of the trio’s chief concerns, BEAK> are probably closest to the work of least celebrated member, Billy Fuller of psych-jazz adventurers Fuzz Against Junk.

Completed by noisemaking scamp Matt ‘Team Brick’ Williams, BEAK>’s tangential reference points do, admittedly, clearly connect with Barrow’s day job, particularly Portishead’s invitingly dark 2008 comeback opus, Third.

But while Third was long awaited to say the least, arriving a decade on from its self-titled predecessor, BEAK> is an exercise in spur-of-the-moment immediacy by very definition, a dozen pieces captured over 12 days during 2009’s frosty first few weeks.

With firm guidelines laid down beforehand – as the record sleeve itself blurts, “Recorded live in one room with no overdubs or repair, only using edits to create arrangements” – the emphasis is on instinctive improvisation and ad hoc flourishes.

In the ensuing krautrock-indebted atmosphere, Bristol and the surrounding district is very much the thematic influence, the opening three tracks named after areas in the locality (all, unsurprisingly, within striking distance of Barrow’s prior muse, Somerset town Portishead).

That aforementioned trio set the album’s tone perfectly, too. Backwell builds from ghostly nothings into a march that German pioneers Neu! would be proud to call their own. Pill pivots off similar repetitious mantras, while Ham Green is a giant on the landscape, patient background vocalisations eventually buried beneath stoner-sized bass fuzz.

Battery Point is as near as BEAK> subsequently peck toward generic, a gently unfolding post-rock picture postcard, shimmering beautifully despite the fact it could nestle nicely on any given album from Texan instrumentalists Explosions in the Sky.

It’s a mere anomaly in the shakedown, however. Because with constant invention and genuine humanity characterising every whirr and warm glow, BEAK> have constructed a record as eccentrically Bristolian as Aphex Twin’s works are Cornish or Mogwai’s are Scottish, with equally intrepid results. --Adam Kennedy

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Demob Happy on 27 Oct. 2009
Format: Audio CD
Subterranean bass throbs, some cod-ghostly wailing and vaguely arabesque improvisations on a rusty sounding organ ... 'Backwell' is the opener of the self-titled debut album by Beak>, a new band including Portishead's Geoff Barrow. With its slighty nauseating retro synths fanning out mechanically over chugging motorik, `Blackwell' signposts an album of happy homage. The reference points range from the familiar (e.g., Can, NEU!, Joy Division) to the more esoteric (Silver Apples, early proponents of electronica-infused psych who resurfaced on the critical radar after being named as an influence for Portishead's `Third').

While Geoff Barrow and co.'s 2008 comeback was characterised by rockier, notably more Kraut textures than the trip hop torch songs with which they made their name in the 90s, Beak> sees Barrow teaming up with fellow Bristolians Billy Fuller and Matt Williams to explore this musical terrain untethered to the song-form constraints of Portishead proper.

The results are mixed. Recorded over a two week period, with little post-production trickery, it has the air of a jam and sometimes feels unfinished or at least rough around at the edges. The textures employed by Beak> are not dissimilar to those rendered by Broadcast's antiquated studio equipment, but whereas Broadcast sculpted these textures into a beguiling retro-futuristic pop, Beak>'s insistence on evoking a certain authenticity is not so much impressionistic as orthodox.

`Pill' begins with some arabesque violin that sounds as if heard from the meagre air shaft of some underground cell. Thereafter the track evolves into a Krautrock dirge as played by some po-faced BBC workskop technicians from the 1970s with rather too much creative freedom.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By The Wolf TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Dec. 2009
Format: Audio CD
12 days worth of writing and recording
in one room of a Bristol studio with
(believably) "no overdubs or repair"
and Beak> burst into the listening world.

It will certainly not be everyone's
cup of tea but one has to admire
Messrs Fuller, Williams and Barrow's
single-mindedness and determination.

The 12 pieces in this collection recall
(for me) the sounds emanating from many
a West London basement in the early 70's.
This is not a bad thing; merely an indication
of what to expect.

However, keep an open mind and kindly ears
and you may well discover more than a little
to love in this impressively honest project.

The waves of sound captured by the simple
guitar, bass and drums formula of 'Battery Point'
build to a curiously affecting climax.
It is a big, big sound given the economy
of resources devoted to the composition.

The hypnotic pulse of 'Blagdon Lake' has an
inner logic which manages to be dark and fun
at the same time.

The stripped-down arrangement of 'The Cornubia',
(A Bristolian pub methinks!), with its strange,
disembodied vocal, is music full of shadows and
uncertainty posessing an almost medieval quality.

'Dundry Hill' is the stuff of nightmares.
A discordant primal landscape full of menace.

Much of this ensemble's inspiration seems to have
sprung from the countryside which surrounds them.
Music of the hills, the woods and the soil.
Persuasively pagan dreams and reflections.
Not unlike their 60'/70's predecessors the
estimable Third Ear Band, Beak> have made a
worthy contribution to a musical genre which
has all but disappeared.

I am convinced of its value.

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By mr brown on 2 July 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
Simply awesome 6 Dec. 2012
By Christoffer Hanson - Published on
Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
This British trio puts out some of the best in experimental music I've heard. Highly technical and surprisingly catchy, both albums by Beak are a great listen and highly addictive. This album is a mainstay in my vinyl rotation.
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