Beta Band, The - Hot Shots II

Year of Release: 2001
Label: EMI
Catalog Number: REG59CDX
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:57:00

The main reason why a band like Porcupine Tree is getting so much respect is the fact that they approach the prog idiom from a different angle, resulting in non-conformist progressive rock. The same can be said from bands like The Orb, Radiohead and even XTC, who do get positive reviews in the main music press as opposed to those artists who wear their dad's Yes T-shirts! A newcomer in the world of adventurous indie music flavoured with prog and psychedelic tendencies is the British foursome The Beta Band, who in little time have become one of the important newcomers in the underground scene, even noticed by the likes of NME and Mojo. From the tiniest club to the muddy fields of Glastonbury these weirdos will certainly make their mark in the coming months.

Using a sample from "Daydream" by Belgian band Wallace Collection, which once was an American number one in the States, "Squares" becomes a nice danceable alternative song that also embraces the atmosphere of Air. Although tipped to be the first single of the album, these plans were sadly abandoned in favour of "Broke." In "All Sharp" some of the vocals are of the same mould as Meddle-era Pink Floyd. In "Human Being" that vintage organ even pushes them right into the Barrett period, whilst the rhythm goes as far back as the heydays of mod combined with a psychedelic overdose. Some more dreamy Floydscapes embrace "Gone," floating on soft piano and sparse guitar licks.

Imagine a cross between Pink Floyd, Beatles, Beach Boys, XTC, Wu-Tang Clan, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Air, REM and Stone Roses and you have an idea of what the Beta Band stew consists of. Furthermore the music is recorded in a rather direct and, dare we say it, primitive way. Yet the end result is exactly the kind of music which is the testimony of its time and not the bleak copy of the upteenth techno sample which no one needs in the first place. "Quiet" again has some Floydish vocals and although it includes fragile details, the main sound leans more towards an intimate club recording than a polished fifteen-week stint at Abbey Road Studios, which is exactly what this new, fresh, direct music needs. The semi-acoustic nature of "Alleged" even rubs shoulders with Beck, whilst "Life" could be seen as post-Human League sporting synthesized interventions which in the new wave eighties were also standard with bands such as Landscape and New Music. The nice vocal harmonies in "Eclipse" towards the end are joined by piano before the drums direct the song into a pure sixties atmosphere ending almost like a Julian Cope song.

Beta Band are less prog than Vulgar Unicorn, yet both follow the same strategy of introducing very interesting elements by mixing them with contemporary and accessible material in order to end with something new and refreshing. Who knows one day they might get that elusive phone call from Madonna asking them to write some new stuff for her. But one would simply hope they never hit the number one spot so they can remain shimmering under the surface. That's where their music glows best!

Squares / All sharp / Human being / Gone / Dragon / Broke / Quiet / Alleged / Life / Eclipse

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

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: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: August 2nd 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 947
Language: english


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