After the lengthy gestation of Portishead’s Third, it’s understandable that Geoff Barrow wanted to do something a little less painstaking with BEAK>. Written and recorded in a week, their eponymous album offers stripped down takes on the krautrock and doom influences that informed Portishead’s masterpiece. Barrow mans the drums, while Billy Fuller and Matt ‘Team Brick’ Williams handle bass, guitar and keyboard duties.
Live, BEAK> stick closely to the recorded material. Considering Williams’ ability as an improviser (a Team Brick set can consist of anything from skronky noise to impassioned Latin incantations), this is slightly disappointing, but their lean, no-nonsense approach pays dividends on tracks such as ‘Iron Action’, with its hypnotic bass pulse and relentless motorik beat. Ghostly wordless vocals add an uncanny edge, but the band are at their most exciting when Williams is let loose on an ancient-looking synth, conjuring wigged out prog solos and bursts of white noise. BEAK> may not yet be the sum of their parts, but they have the makings of something formidable.
King Tut’s, Glasgow, Mon 14 Dec