Wrong side of the road and the right side of life
Beast has released their second album Bardo just when I thought electronic music was dominating the local scene. To record the kind of quality album that they wanted to was going to be difficult, as they are not signed to a major label with monetary support. But they prefer it that way. Artistic freedom and creative integrity are very important to the band.
So they decided to run a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Fans and contributors could choose to pre-order the album ($8), be an Executive Producer of the album ($50), or have Beast perform a private show for them and their friends ($480). The band raised enough money to complete the album, Bardo, and as I listen to it in its entirety for the first time, I can see why they were so persistent to follow that route.
‘Healer’ embodies the symbiosis of iron and copper genders. The first track introduces the album’s sound to the audience in an immediacy to be an all unified male/woman energy with lyrics stating I am a man / I am a woman/ I fuel love/ I channel compassion/ Never above without a beneath/ I am the sword/ I’m the sheath. Its core greets me in the first counts of eight, and I know I am listening to a sound so unique, I feel the stimuli bouncing off of me as I try interpreting their mood and mobility in the coming of this age of music. In its truest form, I recognise its essence, as I did with their debut album Smoke, Swig Swear. The harmony resonates from its contrasted composition. With heavy echoed tapping bass chords, accompanied by strong, and at times, erratic percussion, vocals rip the rock n roll out from its primary influence, and pushes it to elevate further than its genus.
With grungier sub-tones in ‘Alliance,’ and a defiant attitude soaring through the whiling manner of vocalist Inge Beckman, the song is fuelled by fuller arrangements that slow down, either catching the voice as an instrument, or speeding up at impulse, equalising the atmosphere with down trodden moments that spur into continuous pounding rhythms.
The introduction in ‘Out Here’ has a smooth sexiness attached. Forwarded by Rian Zietsman and Louis Nel, who are also members of Taxi Violence, its epicentre pulls you in by their bass, tickling your ears to jump out of your body and breathe badass all over the stranger next to you. Much like the track following its glory, ‘Vesica Piscis,’ which is the most profound geometrical image of ancient and modern times, it embodies a work, a pattern- a creation that tracks a linear settling of timeless focus. Its impact is as slippery in emotion to its counter firmness in its structure. The sacredness of the song is revelled by its different parts. One without its prior would be generic. Two parts out of three come so far out of what you could predict, that it drags you along with their narrative, whether you are present or not. High tempo. Equaliser. Restrained pace. Distinct vocal range. And then all of a sudden, you have whiplash.
Even through their progressive compilation of dense chord directives and metal-influenced bass riffs, they have created one catchy tune after another.
Once the journey is halfway, ‘Are we alive’ tells the story of the unsung female vocalists that lived before now. When Beckman’s sheer spoken hymn comes alive in this track, it pushes women to fear not their unusual or unique sound, but instead embrace it in original projects.
‘Wrong side’ has the weight that ‘Smoke Swig Swear’ did in their debut album for me. I will carry its tune and lyrics with me when I move, act, listen and confront. Its presence, which shares the same interest as the track off their previous album, embodies my ego perfectly. ‘I’m on the wrong side of the road and the right side of life”- I shall steer its anthem when I fall prey to life’s battles.
I am captured by the Mastadon- esque breakdown in ‘Black Hole.’ Its intensity rises throughout the track, tackling on howling noises in vocals and sharp drumming to create a theatrical rock memento.
You find a tribal and enlightened feel to ‘Chant’, with yowling sets to hypnotize the album. It’s great to hear a sound so separate and yet connected to an album. This one is a creeper. It might not get you at first, but imagine the way it was produced, and it will pull you into repeat.
Each track is vigorously raw and unfiltered and majority of the lyrics are congruent with the amplified reverb of the bass. Concluding Bardo is hard. If they had to double the length of their exposure and experimentation with more tracks, I would be game. Its ending is finite. ‘Down’ takes you to another level and releases you from the experience. I am fulfilled at present. I want to do it all over again.