The Beta Band
The Three EPs


4.0
excellent

Review

by Bartender EMERITUS
January 16th, 2005 | 20 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist


Released 1998 (I think) on Astralwerks.

The Beta Band are a fairly odd collective. For a start, they're Scottish. They're also incredibly reclusive, giving the impression that they live somewhere in the highlands, wandering down occasionally only to record an EP or three; practically no press ever accompanied releases, and they seemed determined to let their music, and only their music, do any talking. I'm not even sure how many members there are, as the booklet to this album contains no information on the band or the songs (beyond copyright information, track names and thanks). It is however fairly interesting in it's own right, as it's a collection of all the original covers and picture disc illustrations of the three EPs.

This release is a bit strange too. It's not technically an album, but (shockingly) a compilation of the Beta Band's first three EP releases, gathered together in one place for your listening convenience. This brings to the fore one of the greater problems straight away; it's difficult to listen to as one whole thing, and I wouldn't recommend doing so. Each third of the album was conceived as it's own EP, and in themselves, each can be satisfying listening. Taken together (though to their credit none of the EPs' tracks' styles clash too noticeably), it becomes a dangerously tedious listening experience, simply because the 12 tracks together come up just shy of a full CD's worth of music (78 minutes). That's not to say that such long albums are necessarily tedious, but these weren't designed to run together for 80 minutes, and anyway, a lot of the Beta Band's music is rooted in being repetitive and hypnotic, and like I say, it just starts to grate.

The music itself is also less than predictable. The word that always springs to my mind in describing it is "eclectic", as it contains elements of alt/indie rock in general, but also folk, to some extent, and hip hop (including samples), all with a distinctly lo-fi feel to it. Overall, the closest comparable artist is probably Beck, another notoriously difficult to classify genre-hound. Still not all that similar though, as overall The Beta Band tend to feel much less happy, less positive than Beck. More subdued. There's also a lack of of blues influence, which Beck shows rather clearly.

Expect a lot of repetition, not from track to track - I'm not saying they sound samey, or anything like that - but rather within each song. A lot of the music's effectiveness is built using repetition, creating a fairly entrancing, relaxing effect. Almost hypnotic, sometimes. This isn't very commercial, radio-friendly music, and though some tracks can be quite catchy (Dry the Rain and The House Song being prime examples), it usually requires quite some attention to really enjoy. It took me a long time to really sit down and listen to it properly, especially the spacey, often almost experimental The Patty Patty Sound EP, and even more especially the 15-minute, sample-drenched Monolith (which even samples other Beta Band tracks, noticeably Dry the Rain), but when I finally did, I loved what I found.

Overall, this is an excellent disc. It'll probably take a while to get into, but there's such a unique mix of music here, and every song has at least one excellent groove, that I imagine anyone who can deal with some manner of non-metal music could eventually find some way to like it, if not love it. It bears repeated listening, too, if only because there's pretty much always something else to try concentrating on. As a matter of fact, as I'm typing this, I'm listening to The House Song, a track I thought I knew quite well, and for what seems like the first time I'm really noticing the nonsensical pseudo-rap that comes in around three minutes in. The Beta Band are still very much together, by the way, (in fact, if all goes well, I could be seeing them live sometime this year), but I haven't heard anything else by them, so I have no benchmark to judge this album against. Still, I'd urge people to check them out (in fact, I have once already, but I don't know if anyone actually did). The only thing about The Three EPs which prevents me giving it 4.5 or higher is that the three releases don't work so well on one disc.

Recommended track:
Dry the Rain, if only because it's the first song I heard by them, and the one which persuaded me to check out The Three EPs further. I think it's actually one of their simpler songs (despite the presence of trumpets), but it's just so good. Incidentally, for fans of High Fidelity (the film), this is the track which plays as Rob informs Dick that he will now sell five copies of The Beta Band's Three EPs. It also got a 9/10 from YDload in Forced Listening, I think.

4/5



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user ratings (74)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Shadows
Moderator
November 15th 2004


2530 Comments


Nice work Bartender. I was pretty intrigued by the first paragraph. Sounds like they're a mysterious group worth looking into.

Bartender
Emeritus
November 15th 2004


826 Comments


I get the feeling that means you didn't read past the first paragraph

Scott Herren
November 15th 2004


192 Comments


I have had this album for a while, but have yet to really give it a thorough attentive listen. The songs I can remember like "Dry the Rain" are great.

Robert Crumb
Emeritus
November 16th 2004


165 Comments


The Beta Band actually decided to call it quits after one last tour I think. I remember hearing that a couple months ago. I was never really a huge fan but I am a huge fan of this album. It is pretty tough to swallow, especially in the first sitting but it's very quality. Nice review, loved the intro.

Bartender
Emeritus
November 16th 2004


826 Comments


^So are they breaking up after this current tour?

[QUOTE=Scott Herren]I have had this album for a while, but have yet to really give it a thorough attentive listen. The songs I can remember like "Dry the Rain" are great.[/QUOTE]

You should Just sit down one day when you have nothing pressing to do, and try listening through it. As I say, it took me a while too.

Robert Crumb
Emeritus
November 16th 2004


165 Comments


I think so, but I might have read wrong. Wouldn't be the first time. :o

Bartender
Emeritus
November 16th 2004


826 Comments


Ah well. At least I have a real reason to get into gear and go see them.

Tomahawk
December 16th 2004


124 Comments


This is a good album, it's really interesting. I'm not sure why, it just intrigues me. I have to be in the right mood to listen to it, but when I'm in that sort of mood I really enjoy it. Took me a while to get into though.

OrbDragon
December 16th 2004


152 Comments


Nice review. This sounds like something I would dig. Thanks.

OrbDragon
December 16th 2004


152 Comments


I downloaded "dry the rain" and it's pretty decent...sounds a bit like Zero 7.

Happymeal
December 16th 2004


330 Comments


I like The House Song. I'm gonna check this album out sometime. Good review

Bartender
Emeritus
December 18th 2004


826 Comments


[QUOTE=OrbDragon]I downloaded "dry the rain" and it's pretty decent...sounds a bit like Zero 7.[/QUOTE]

Could you recommend some Zero 7 for me to check out?

Happymeal
December 18th 2004


330 Comments


[QUOTE=Bartender]Could you recommend some Zero 7 for me to check out?[/QUOTE]

Get Simple Things if you want an album, many say it's still better than their latest.

If you want songs, try "Polaris", "In the Waiting Line", "Out of Town", "Destiny"(slightly poppier than the rest, it's the single), "End Theme". I'm not familiar with the songs off the new album however..

Well_Respected_Man
December 18th 2004


75 Comments


Yeah, I got this album off you Bartender. It's a really cool and unique band. I agreewith you about it's repetetiveness. It works for the better createing a trance feeling for each song. "Dry The Rain" is still my my favoirte song from these guys.

niobium
May 5th 2006


238 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yay, first comment in a year and a half.

I've been really getting into this album recently. Mostly the song "Inner Meet Me", but the whole thing is excellent. Of course, "Dry the Rain" is a great track, but I also love "Dr. Baker", "B + A", and "I Know". I'd recommend this album to anybody.

Minion
April 13th 2011


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dr Baker is an awesome track; maybe mostly well-known from being a random background track on Trigger Happy TV series 1. It deserves a bit more recognition than a backing track though. Best song on the album (after Monolith).

Nrap
August 29th 2013


154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Needles In My Eyes
Won't cripple me tonight, alright.

zakalwe
December 22nd 2013


8497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dr Baker always gives the right prescriptions

Digging: Luciano Basso - Voci

deathschool
September 4th 2014


9003 Comments


Forgot about this album. It's so fucking good.

Digging: Look What I Did - Zanzibar III: Analog Prison

zakalwe
September 4th 2014


8497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

All time classic band bro.



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