We first covered Mr Beatnick upon the digital release of his Synthetes EP in the summer of 2011. A late pass, indeed, but we’ve been watching him and Don’t Be Afraid, the label he calls home, very closely ever since. He was even kind enough to give us our 42nd Truancy Volume. Over the past few years DBA has expanded from a label that just put out records by Semtek and Beatnick to being a multi-disciplinary force keen on blooding new artists and expanding repertoires, as well as putting out limited 10″s, 12″s, and now, in a bold move, its first CD. In a world where physical sales are too anomalous to call and vinyl and cassette are bread and limited butter*, DBA has opted to garner together the key points of The Synthetes Trilogy on compact disc. That’s DBA though – always taking the unexpected route.
Stream: Mr Beatnick – The Synthetes Trilogy – Bonus Beats (Don’t Be Afraid)
Rather than opting for a chronological approach, bar opening with the titular track, the CD groups tracks sonically, thematically. This approach highlights the subtle grooves and orchestral similarities between tracks, recorded as they were across a period of years. The jagged strings of ‘Synthetes’ give way to the sultry motions of ‘Symbiosis’, from this year’s Savannah EP. It’s not long before we’re introduced to ‘Waning Moon’, the first (and arguably the finest) of the new tracks. A slow-burning late-evening jam, all skittering percussion and bass-led joyousness, it’s a study in yearning, appropriate for cocktail parties and basement discos alike. It’s also been reworked by Opal Tapes affiliate and recent Truants interviewee Best Available Technology – a remix that flips the original’s melodiousness for a suitably gloomy affair. Listen over at Nutriot. The gorgeous dripping funk of ‘Casio Romance’ and the effortless groove of ‘Shifting Sands’ (featured in our Room Full of Truants) make way for ‘Yacht on The Nile’, which pits harsh, pulsing drums against a heartfelt whine and glistening bells. ‘Nuit Blanche’, meanwhile, is a hands-in-the-air jam with DjRUM-like flourishes, pizzicato pinches and a lead sample that lands just on the right side of cheesy, manipulated casually yet deliberately as it is. The pace kicks up with ‘Savannah’ and ‘Parallax Scroll’, Beatnick’s ode to rave, and then it comes to a close with ‘Never Dies’. What never dies? Hardcore. This one is a riot of 142bpm Think breaks and frantic organs, a surprising end in some ways. But Beatnick is a voracious listener, so we shouldn’t be surprised by his eclectic yet coherent output. If you’ve listened to the three releases as often as we have, it’s wonderful to hear them recontextualised like this, reordered and repackaged with a broader purpose in mind. Of course it would be remiss of us not to mention the exquisite artwork, lovingly designed by Emily Evans. What next for Mr Beatnick? An ambient, beatless work perhaps, if idle chat is to be believed. Whatever comes, we’ll be listening.
Mr Beatnick – The Synthetes Trilogy is out now on Don’t Be Afraid. Buy here.
*Since the time of writing, Don’t Be Afraid has announced the impending release of a limited cassette.