Review Summary: bansheebeat returns with essentially more of the same: more tunes from the astral plane
In a world where one man’s midnight maladies can either be another’s possible savior or deterrent, the much needed filter on audio file sharing from anyone lucky enough to con their parents into buying them a laptop is sadly one in much need of service. As someone genuinely appreciative of any individual’s musical influences and subsequent internal rhythm, sites like Soundcloud have sadly stolen more time from me than I’d probably like to admit to myself, or to the people who have suffered at the result of my absence. More times than not, the inexperience is obvious; a copy of an Aphex Twin album in one hand, and an (apparent) bright idea formed and subsequently allowed to flourish, is then extended through the other hand with the end result usually landing somewhere closer to blind ambition than anything that could rightly have been called a “good idea”. We tell ourselves that talent isn’t always so forthcoming, that the best started somewhere – what we fail to realize, or to impart upon on those wide-eyed children with their latest copy of Logic freshly installed, is that talent was wise enough to not show us how they came to be. The stepping stone between late-night experimentation and something that could genuinely be considered publishable is now gone, lost to a world where one can transmit their music to the other side of the world, even before the paint has dried.
I choose this as my introduction because when someone of genuine talent is discovered, or shared with, it becomes even more of an event than the simple discovery of good music
. A pat on the back, and a comment of “hey man, good job” might seem sufficient enough, but to find someone operating at such a high caliber for free
– the idea of musician by hobby, not by trade – is, at times, staggering. I felt this way when hearing Galactics
, the debut EP by bansheebeat. Without mincing words, it was, at times, amateurish, rough around the edges – it was the work of someone who had picked up that one Influential Album, or Albums, and decided to see how capable he was at attempting the same job. But there was something remarkable about it, how even with the lack of polish or even the lack of experience, you could almost hear the artist in there, joining you on the ride, tirelessly plying his trade to as close to perfection as he could allow. There was a heart to it, an innocent and sweet one that offered up no other reason for the existence of such a release other than “I hope you enjoy”. There was a simple but honest progression about the whole thing, and in all honesty you couldn’t help but smile at the whole damn thing. So I said “hey man, good job”, and truthfully I expected nothing more to come of it.
it, here we are, sophomore time for our young bansheebeat. And for all intents and purposes, Wutai
is another successful outing for this young electronic maestro, and yet it’s a release that comes from a far different place than Galactics
. Upon a casual listen it seems
to follow the formula that preceded it, it feels
like a follow-up to that EP should rightfully feel, but there’s something a little bit different about it. There’s an obvious maturity to it; themes here are a little more thought out, ideas progress at a much more subdued pace (the artist obviously more assured of himself, thus negating any need to bellow profusely at the onset). He’s found his audience, and with a certain expectation met, bansheebeat (while still possibly sweating under the pretense of the dreadful “second release” blues) has allowed himself some room to breathe. And with that comes some
of his best work to date, none least of which is the opening track ‘Precursors’. As an opening, and an embodiment of what to expect, ‘Precursors’ floors me, the way it shifts so efficiently from blinding darkness to breaking dawn. The way it seems to capture so much so quickly, like 24 hours frozen in a moment, gone in the blink of an eye. Or ‘Sakura Petals’ that begins with one of those impressionable UK basslines before slipping comfortably into the kind of midtempo electronic kick Warp would have salivated over back in the mid ‘90s.
But as someone still learning the ropes, bansheebeat hasn’t quite mastered the art of restraint. For every great moment on here (and at only 22 minutes long there’s a fair portion to be had) there are still a few missteps that hold this release back. ‘Setting Suns’, for the most part, is a rather delicious little slice of video game nostalgia (I believe rpg idm was the coin I termed, Last.fm has apparently failed to pick up on that little gem), but whereas those stretched-to-bits guitar samples (or at the very least what sounds very much like a mechanical Hendrix) work in spades at the beginning, as a returning motif they fail to find themselves achieving the same effect. As a constant they begin to lose the emotional punch that they seem intrinsic to, and when the track kicks into something of a high gear they end up lost against the rigid pummel. But then there’s the title track, the one that begins perhaps with the greatest sense of earnest, the most promise. And perhaps the greatest point of derision that I had with Galactics
ends up becoming the straw that broke the camel’s back here. It’s that point where everything seems to mesh together beautifully, until what can only be described as the sound of a small Asian child’s ringtone finds itself thrown into the mix. It’s not the melody that it creates that throws the track off balance, but the tone itself is the clashing together of rocks over the track’s more softly applied makeup. It’s a rather bold move, but one that fails to do anything other than shock, and rattle the listener from the blue-sky daydreaming that the track otherwise inspires so fragrantly. Which is perhaps the perfect way to sum up Wutai
– as a release that, while very much the work of a vast majority of people, still feels like it’s walking very much in its own steps. And barring a few missteps it shows a producer very capable at someday ruling the laptop scene. The only downfall here is that when that very hazy and very real sedated atmosphere gets broken, it ends up being a far more obvious exploit than it really needed to be.
bansheebeat is the musical project of Sputnik user TheReverend724. Wutai can be downloaded here: http://bansheebeat.bandcamp.com/