The Beige “The Beige” (Independent, 2006)
Colour me impressed
The closest thing I can liken this to is the beautifully austere musicscapes of the Boxhead Ensemble. Everything is contained within gentle vessels of sound, the music splashing against the sides or shimmering, rippling, curling in on itself. Pulsing, dividing, percussion, electronics, guitars, banjo all part of the same contained sea of noise. The effect is often a quiet venture into the avant garde like some free jazz / glitch hybrid spliced onto more traditional song-based forms, recognizable tunes and melodies pass like vessels running without lights.
The alt-country roots are most noticeable on ‘Mirror’ a song that embraces the form for half its length before the instruments rebel against their generic straightjackets, cymbals patter and splash, trumpets call, guitars forget about chords, vocals reappear to assert form and pedal steel plays shepherd to get everything to the chorus. The tension between the vocal melodies and the urge to experiment makes this a rewarding listen, the basic songs are good enough, and the cul de sacs that are explored make them more interesting. Keyboards have their on party on ‘Lord I Wish I Was’ banjo gatecrashes, they all waltz together on ‘One for Me’. The peak is reached on ‘Nobody Nowhere’ where swathes of cello contrast with elliptical guitar figures, bells and cymbals, as the cello deepens its song the other elements continue to recycle creating a kind of bleak but beautiful glimpse of winter.
A record that fuses popular and experimental forms into a coherent whole is a rare thing, and this is a record of rare beauty.
Date review added: Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Reviewer: David Cowling
Related web link: Official Site