The debut album from Beak> plays out like an eerie flipside to Out of Season, the lone album released by Beth Gibbon and Rustin Man. On that record, Portishead’s lead singer took the band’s confessional slant and their jazzy inclinations in a new direction, making something rustic and organic, a smoky, seductive singer/songwriter album that was all acoustic but still sounded not too far removed from her band’s regular groove. The other half of the Portishead equation is represented by Beak>, led by Gibbons’ partner in crime, Geoff Barrow; this is their experimental side, their moody electronica pushed to the extreme. Taken together, these two albums present a fascinating deconstruction of what makes Portishead tick; apart, they’re entirely different animals, seemingly unrelated if not for the shared banner under which both flags fly.
Gibbons, of course, is the heart and the humanity of the band, and she took those attributes with her into Out of Season. By contrast, Beak> is weird, sinister, and esoteric—vintage Krautrock with a modern flair. It’s low-key and laid-back to the point of being downright creepy: The music is all meandering keyboards over a foundation of skittering drums and throbbing bass. Simple almost to the point of mood music, this stuff is repetitive music that slowly reveals subtle variations over time.
Read the rest at Stereo Subversion.