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Beats Antique | Contraption V. 2

album review by John Powell

Beats Antique | Contraption V. 2

Oh, Beats Antique, you are a wonder. Who would have thought that slow, Middle East-inspired “jam” music would take hold so well, and would make fans so dedicated that they dress up in belly dancing outfits for the live shows? More than that, only two people, David Satori and Sidecar Tommy, perform the well-woven layers of electronica and organic beats and instrumentation. The last third of the group is Zoe Jakes, the belly dancer fans mimic, who dances on stage, plays the drum, and as much as either of the other two, makes this surreal and gothic image. It’s one of the most interesting band line-ups ever.

Contraption V. II is a solid continuation of the group’s strange-but-welcome music-meshing. For the new age, Beats Antique has integrated on this album plenty of dubstep vibes and pulled even more from Euro techno, like on Crush, which has a beat akin to the Balkan club music that’s gaining footing worldwide. Beats Antique apologizes for nothing, deciding to have breakdowns, sound odysseys, and super slow tempos that you still want to dance to, without explanation sometimes.

“The Allure” starts things off. Minor notes and a rich beat makes the whole world feel in slow motion. Delicately, the song builds over violin and Beats’ infamous electro-bass thumps. If you’ve never heard the band before, this is as good a place to start as any. It’s a slinky, sometimes hefty, batch of instrumental sections strung together through a carrying violin progression.

“Skeleton Key” isn’t much different, except it takes a grittier look at the beat. The influences are wide but they always come together nicely, and this album begins here with some of the nastier, modern electronic concoctions.

The band’s been touring behind this album with Lynx, an artist with a sincere voice, a guitar, and a laptop of electro beats. Lynx’s sound gels so well with Beats’ that it was only a matter of time before they teamed up for “Crooked Muse”, one of the album’s best songs. While it’s lyrically a little flat, both Lynx and Beats are about the ever-growing grooves. In a near-waltz groove, Lynx sings, “I’m waiting and I wonder/ how far can I swim/ before you pull me under?” It’s a downright excellent song.

Another key track is “Crush”, featuring Brass Menazeri. It’s a thumping club-style Balkan blast. Its staccato notations and warped vocal waverings, along with synth-bruised trumpet, makes it irresistible.

Everything down to the closing “Bloody Bones” is not just serious, but it’s also fun. Contraption V. II shows the two can commingle. The trio never fails to have a good time, stretching their imaginations while retaining the integrity of the sound.

 

If there’s one criticism to be had, it’s the same of most Beats Antique albums, which is there are rarely moments of blasting out into get-down tempos. The band could benefit from a few songs that build to blissful techno orgasm, but instead they stay perpetually restrained. It’s this restraint that almost makes this album more delicious.

Bottom line: Beats Antique continues their blends of worldly sounds, their organic instrumentation and electro meanderings. Solid.

 


 

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