Beta Band, The - Heroes To Zeroes

Year of Release: 2004
Label: EMI Records / Regal
Catalog Number: REG 101 CDDJ
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:16:00

The opening guitar chords have you believe you're listening to some vintage U2, but it's from the brand new album by The Beta Band. Long heralded as being the new Radiohead, these guys deliver an album full of diversity spread over twelve tracks. With the final mix in the hands of Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, Air) maybe Heroes To Zeroes will finally give this band the well-deserved breakthrough. For sure "Space" is a little gem one could easily place on Kid A or Amnesiac as it's that good. It has kind of a tribal rhythm whilst also containing some fierce guitar and "airy" vocals. In fact, Steve Mason delivers kind of hypnotic vocals throughout, helped in some circumstances by some electronic wizardry. The grooves are equally hypnotic, even trance-like at times. The mix of a live feel spiced up with samples and computer beats results in a more cohesive album, but which at times, such as during the laidback "Wonderful," nevertheless contains a wide scope and variety flirting with acoustic simplicity.

The dreamy vocals, which at times also contain a bit of sixties magic, are a very important part of the unique sound of the Beta Band and this time around the band very much has outlined it's music around these vocals. I already mentioned tribal drums, of which you get a second helping during "Out-side" but the balance between more accessible songs and more "arty" compositions is levelled when the band delivers "Space Beatle." The Beta Band surely doesn't make compromises and most certainly doesn't feel pushed towards having to make a top ten record. The attitude is that if it happens, it happens without forcing things. Hence the rather bizarre, such as "Rhododendron" sounding like an alternative mass. There's also a lot of studio trickery involved, which is perfectly illustrated by means of "Liquid Bird," where the guitar is muted on and off, even leading to a mere second of silence. The sound of silence? A chamber orchestra gets embedded within the rather minimalistic structure of "Simple," its strings steering the song towards an unexpected finale. When listening to this album over and over again, I'm afraid to say that the big recognition won't happen with this album. For Radiohead it all happened with The Bends and OK Computer, so they had enough credit to go for the more arty approach on both Kid A and Amnesiac at a later stage in their career. The Beta Band is trying their luck by starting the other way around, thus by delivering the more difficult stuff first. I'm afraid if they continue this path they will never ever record their own "Karma Police," but then again maybe they don't want to?

Assessment / Space / Lion Thief / Easy / Wonderful / Troubles / Out-Side / Space Beatle / Rhododendron / Liquid Bird / Simple / Pure For

Steve Mason - guitar, vocals, percussion
John McLean - decks, samples, piano
Richard Greentree - bass, percussion
Robin Jones - drums, piano, tapeloops

Champion Versions (ep) (1997)
The Patty Patty Sound (ep) (1998)
Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos (ep) (1998)
The Gthree EP's (1998)
The Beta Band (1998)
To You Alone (CDs) (2000)
Broke (ep) (2001)
Hot Shots II (2001)
Nelly Foggits Blues (ep) (2001)
Heroes To Zeroes (2004)

Genre: Other

Origin UK

Added: June 7th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1040
Language: english


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