By: Chris Schwarzkopf
There’s something different going on with Beats Antique
’s new album, Contraption v. II
, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it,at first. All the familiar elements are there. The music is just as deep and lush as any previous release by the trio. And yet, a great sorrow that isn’t present on earlier albums seems to have settled here.I listen to Beats Antique’s earlier work and I genuinely don’t hear the tension I hear in Contraption v. II
’s eight tracks.
And I think this is the “something different” that eluded me before. To me, Contraption v.II
is the soundtrack to a not-so-distant,dystopian future.
Maybe it’s the high, fast violin tremolos heard at points in “The Allure,” that got me onto that train of thought.It’s the sort of thing heard in horror films just before the monster pounces. Maybe it was the longer, deeper strains in “Hero.” No matter the source, the result is the emotional weight of the album seems to carry with it an uncertainty about where we’re headed.
What bolstered this concept is the inclusion of a staticy, glitchy remix of Filastine’s “Colony Collapse.” Listen to the original, or better yet, watch the video and you’ll begin to understand my reason for suggesting that Contraption v.II
doesn’t bear a particularly sunny outlook. The message of the original is a powerful one. The remix is certainly not any more hopeful than the original.
The final track, “Bloody Bones,” drives home the idea of dystopia. “Bloody Bones” is a dirge, a lamentation, where an organ line follows a horn section as it plays a plodding, dreary melody that brings the album to an unsettling close.
The only bright spot comes in the form of “Bus to Balkans,” with its faster tempo suggesting the possibility of escape.
Beats Antique has always imbued its music with a certain, eerie quality. But whereas before that seemed to carry a yearning for a distant, mysterious past, on the new album that same quality now delivers the senseof looking ahead fearfully to an increasingly mechanized, yet disconnected future.
conjures all manner of images of ecological and economic collapse but is fitted with all the trappings of the gypsy culture for which Beats Antique is known.The album speaks of isolation and the growing gap between classes. It’s as if Beats Antique is implying the way things are going, one day we may all be gypsies.