Through the aim of making something conceptually rich but without the fear of having to commit to a single idea, Beep deliver what is truly a sprawling array of sounds with City of the Future. Relying on the use of colorful instrumentation and raw musicianship, the experimental trio has found an assorted collection in delivering compelling new sounds. The result is what they would have expected with an album that is both enticing and beguiling but never, over-stuffed.
Like a similarly grimy slow roll, reminiscent of something by The Budos Band, “Golden Chinese Amulet” grooves with a lunging bass line and nervy guitar part. The band’s ebb and flow is dictated by nothing more than a love for the futuristic sounds that space can withhold. Atmospheric and somewhere in between the realm of avant-garde and experimental jazz, City of the Future oozes with an ethereal experience that never lacks exciting new twists. Even the aforementioned song travels through various modes and tone shifts before arriving to the clanging dissonance of “Today is Your Birthday.” It’s this kind of tension that encompasses the walls of layers and paired with a calm handle on rhythm and beats, Beep is hitting on all cylinders here.
Furthermore, it’s the smooth wave of consciousness found on songs like “Mbira” that sparkle within the album’s varied demeanor. Travelling through a stamping drum part and accompanied by a jazzy upright bass, the guitar’s melody is both effervescent and sparkling clear. That aforementioned wave – heady and always striving forward – is portrayed through the vocal layers found at the heart of the song. Swift and almost, too easy, it’s a stark depiction of what City of the Future is about; at the end there are the soothing tones of a strong saxophone. Rather than getting lost in the various styles of music and really, rather than trying to pigeon-hole such flourishing music, Beep deliver a strong showing of musicality and craft.
What makes the music all the more enduring is the knowledge in being able to present both something entirely aesthetic in scope and entirely tangible in terms of motion and dexterity. Basically, Beep know when to bring the stunning ambience and rolling modifications (“Crabcakes”) and they also know when to scale back and focus on pensive pace and delivery, as they do on “Slugs.” And while the former’s off-handed percussion is a dissimilar role to the ?uestlove-like stomp on the latter, they play off each other like any contrasting pair. And with that knowledge set in place, the album’s songs are allowed to shift in and out of focus for the listener, without ever losing grip on our attention.
For Beep, the description of their sound will always be the most challenging aspect of their music but in many ways, that’s a winning flavor. Too unhinged and uncontrollable, there is far too much range to be measured for a specific genre to be worthy. City of the Future is surely a listen many could find terrific promise in.