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Featuring members of Portishead and Moon Gangs, Beak> is a trio crafting dense and atmospheric music inspired by dub, Krautrock, and the Beach Boys. The moody sound of albums such as the group's self-titled 2009 debut made Beak>'s music a perfect fit for soundtrack work, which included the score to 2016's Couple in a Hole and the musical accompaniment to the 2022 graphic novel Kosmik Musik. On efforts like 2018's >>>, the band's sound expanded to more structured songs as well as farther-flung experiments while retaining their unmistakable vibe. The group began in late 2008, when Portishead producer/multi-instrumentalist Geoff Barrow, bassist Billy Fuller, and keyboardist Matt Williams jammed at Invada Records' Christmas party, then started playing as Beak> early in 2009. They recorded their debut album in 12 days with a strict set of rules: the trio members recorded all of their parts in the same room, and no overdubbing was allowed. BEAK> arrived in fall 2009 via Ipecac in the U.S. and Invada in the U.K., just before the group made their official live debut at the Ten Years of ATP Festival. That year, Barrow met and signed the German political journalist turned post-punk singer Anika, with whom Beak> recorded her 2010 eponymous debut album. He also kept busy with a number of other Invada-related projects, including Quakers, an underground hip-hop collective, and Drokk, a collaboration with composer Ben Salisbury inspired by the long-running comic strip Judge Dredd. Quakers' self-titled album and Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One both arrived in early 2012, shortly before a new Beak> album, >>, appeared. That year also saw the release of the Mono/Kenn single as well as a split single with DD/MM/YYYY. The group returned in 2015 with the BEAK>'s score to Belgian director Tom Geens' psychological drama Couple in a Hole, which featured tracks from the band's albums as well as new original material, arrived in May 2016. That year, Williams departed the group and was replaced by Will Young, also of Moon Gangs. In 2017, Beak> released two singles: June's Sex Music, which featured a remix by Arcade Fire's Win Butler, and that December's Merry Xmas (Face the Future), which benefited the mental health resources The National Elf Service and The Mental Elf. L.A. Playback, a digital collection of B-sides and rarities, arrived in April 2018. Later that year, Williams returned on drums for the band's third studio album. Appearing in September 2018 via Invada and Temporary Residence, >>> was largely written and recorded live and found the group setting motorik beats aside in favor of experiments with prog rock, pop, and folk. The companion EP Life Goes On -- whose title track was inspired by a distorted recording of a young girl's voice that Beak> heard while in Mexico City -- appeared the following June. In 2020, Beak> showed solidarity with protesters who took down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston by reissuing the 2010 EP Wulfstan, which was named after a Norman-era saint who campaigned against slavery. The following September, the band issued the single "Oh Know/Ah Yeh." A year later, Beak> delivered Kosmik Musik. The musical accompaniment to artist Joe Currie and writer/director Ben Wheatley's sci-fi graphic novel of the same name, the novel and the score drew inspiration from sources ranging from Douglas Adams, Star Trek, and Star Wars to Krautrock.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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