So I spent my Sunday listening to the latest album from LA based Thavius Beck, ‘The Most Beautiful Ugly’.
Before I even begin tell you about the sound, take a look at the album art.
At the centre, a digital face with Thavius’ likeness fixes the listener with an intense stare, further heightened by the snatches of imagery warped inside the outline of his hair. It hints at a city struck by lightning, bordered with flames and meteors burning around the creator’s cranium. The blank stare, directly into the eyes of the beholder, converges this imagery into an idea, fixed on us with an unwavering concentration.
At least that’s what I see, now I’ve heard the noise it represents.
The masterfully constructed beat at the heart of each track spells a potential destiny for almost any of the works on ‘The Most Beautiful Ugly’ as a welcome addition to any dj set. Allowed to flow through the subconscious minds of the crowd, delicately weaving their dark static through the twisting flow of dancing limbs this album can support and add to the hedonistic side of popular music. Sat down at a laptop, as I am now, the songs switch circuits, revealing an intriguing path through Universes built around Thavius’ vision of the future.
While I’m hearing digital blips, electronic synths, and drums that intertwine and wind round each other’s paths, the entire cacophony blends into one whole load of sonic attitude. It’s complex experience, the sort of thing you’ll know when you hear, the sound of so many individual pieces given their own voice, coming together to create a percussive ensemble of groove and a wall of living sound. It’s like trying to explain the taste of static.
The first word that comes to mind? Current.* It can mean contemporary, modern, alive, happening now. Currents represent the flow of oceans and the slipstream, the current of human life that molds surroundings according to an undetermined and puzzling will.
There’s a shadowy crunch to the album, carried on a variety of beats, loops and lush synth beds. The album consistently drops hints at emotions and ideas hidden within the electronic voices and synthesised drum parts. Thavius has captured something of the moral panic over technology, the pursuit of progress and power. Of robot armies marching on burning cities, of hidden fears within our collective mind. Something that’s only really safe to explore through popular music.
The album feels like he’s reporting back to us from some other side. He’s been on his own journey, it’s taken him to this point and this is the wanderer letting us know what he sees. It feels like a very personal glimpse into musical ideas, nurtured to their full strength and brought to the world stage. From his site: “this is the record that so far best encapsulates the ‘Thavius Beck sound.’” The result of a lone worker, sculpting 1’s and 0’s into a communication focused on a delicate understanding of emotional ebbs and flows.
Definitely a day well spent.
*Please note: currants have now also come to mind. This has nothing to do with the album.
Out today (29th October 2012) on Plug Research