Los Angeles based Thavius Beck has produced his second full length for Mush. Consisting of thirteen tracks of his signature blend of synths and harsh electronic beats. Beck’s sound is relentless, and there’s not much variety in terms of textures, its all portentous synth chords and epic washes, nasty stabs and strictly quantised beats. The cold, tinny drum fields Beck has opted for invariably cut right through the sound, diverting ears from the subtlety of what’s going on underneath, and there is scarcely a decibel’ worth of dynamic in the whole album – perhaps this is the fault of the mastering, or maybe its intentional, but this album is an impermeable, compressed wall of sameness.
There are frustrating things about this album, but it’s undeniably ambitious, uncompromising, and very consistent. The vocal collaborations are heart-felt: the Saul Williams track in particular is well done – it’s a bleak, spot-on interpretation of Williams’ poem. The piano on Down constitutes one of the albums subtler moments, though where exactly Mia Doi Todd’ contribution lies is uncertain, as she is obscured by an overzealous soup of delays and effects. There is some interesting rhythmic experimentation going on, for instance He’ Back and Reaching straddle a head nodding 70-80bpm, and double that – depending on your preference, which gives the tracks a nice duality. This music is probably at its best in a live context, in a dark room to accentuate its disembodied strangeness, and a big system to expose the minutiae.
Those familiar with the Mush stable might like to check this out. It achieves an odd conflation of hip hop and electronics, so if you’re into angular beats with just a touch of the human, then this might be for you.