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There is just something that doesn’t quite make it when it comes to the band Beak>; whether it’s because they seem to be trying too hard to emulate the motorik rock that came from Germany in the ’70s, or because they attempt to go for a ritualistic sound that falls short of ritual, there’s just something that they can’t manage to pull off.

The band comprise of members Billy Fuller, Matt Williams, and of course, Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame. The sound they make has obvious Krautrock references, especially on the track “Liar,” where they do an amazing impersonation of Damo Suzuki-era Can; but there are post-Kraut influences too, most notably in the post-punk that came along in the late ’70s, which also had its roots in the experimental German music that preceded it. The results sound not unlike a genre that also attempted to recreate Deutsche ‘anti’ rock shapes during the 90s, the horrifically named ‘post-rock.’ The Glaswegian band Ganger seem to come to mind on several of these tracks (such as the opener “The Gaul”); another outfit who seemed enamoured of the woody sound that Can effortlessly came up with on several pieces.

The problem one would have with Beak>, and indeed the problem that one would have with some of the post-rock bands of yesteryear, is a personal one; one that depends on your own stance where terms such as ‘in authenticity’ arise. Despite the fact that such terms could be deemed Dangerous.

The repetition never achieves the mantric state it sets out to, despite the band’s best efforts; and the music can just come across as sluggish dirge on a piece like “Wulfstan II.” The track “Deserters,” as well as the aforementioned “Wulfstan II,” go for a shamanic psychedelic feel, but there are so many bands that did this better a long, long time ago, so why recreate the sound of a bygone era?

This all comes down to what the listener feels when it comes to retro (vintage?) sounds. There is also the demographic that missed all of this music the first time round, to which Beak> may very well sound fresh and daring. Unfortunately this listener is totally unconvinced and, even worse, totally bored.

-Jay Harper-

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