Live in Portland October 8, 2018 | Star Theater
It’s been two years since we last heard from Beak>, an experimental rock band heavily driven by the presence of drummer/vocalist Geoff Barrow (Portishead). On 2016’s Couple in a Hole, the trio (Billy Fuller handles the bass, Will Young the band’s cerebral keyboard work) tackled a film soundtrack. A fitting project for a band whose nervy, percussive instrumentals would perfectly suit some art-house obscurity from the 70s. On their newest outing, >>>, Beak> return to form with their gloriously European-sounding psychedelia completely intact, and plenty of bona fide songs, to boot.
Beak> is a genuinely eclectic collection of guys, musically, but their modus operandi is a cold, minimal sound reminiscent of their krautrock heroes and post-punkers like Wire. The subdued but tense synth and bassline of the instrumental “Teisco” show a band that has always had a taste for the dark, obscure and obtuse. And they still know how to nail it. As for the songs that are, well, “real” songs, “Brean Down” and “King of the Castle” are groove-driven masterstrokes that would do Ege Bamyasi-era Can proud. Barrow and Fuller’s work is the core of the band’s appeal: hypnosis through minimalist repetition. As for Barrow’s tranced-out wailing and mumbling, well, that vibe is the perfect guide through this gloomy, hazy haunted house.