City of the Future
Release Date: Jan 18, 11
There are some people who comb beaches with metal-detectors looking for lost treasure. There are some people who are in to feet. There are some people who are down with buying overpriced replicas of the wands used in the Harry Potter movies. And there are some people who make and enjoy listening to jazz. I don’t get it, but, then again, I don’t get a lot of things. Jackson Pollock is a renowned artist and I’m pretty sure burritos and I, along with some Kohler porcelain, have created similar “masterpieces.”
Like all these things, though, it seems that those who do “get it” seem to really enjoy it…while the majority of us watch baffled from a safe distance. That’s one of the biggest holdups to enjoying Beep’s City of the Future, however. Unless you’ve been digging on Coltrane and Miles Davis for years and can detect the derivations through the clutter, Beep’s exploratory jazz is only going to sound like a landfill of noises.
That being said, it’s clear that these guys know how to handle their multitude of instruments. Some even revere them as the new wave of jazz. The tracks “Wolf Pantolones” and “Golden Chinese Amulet” display their aptitude thoroughly; especially the drummer’s (listening to the drummer drop bombs in “Wolf Pantolones” will make your eyes cross).
Unfortunately, most of the group’s talents usually get lost behind a barrage of cringe-inducing screeches and aimless solos, which is more or less the trend of the album. Often the songs on City will give you brief tastes of something good, like the chicken in a Caesar salad or M&M’s in a bag of trail mix. But just as quickly as the intriguing sound comes, an audible equivalent of a dry lettuce leaf or bran flake will pillage your ear’s taste buds. See for yourself in this music video for “Today is Your Birthday”.
“Mbira” is probably the most effective song on the album at combining several elements to make a tight, comprehensible jazz experience. It contains short stints from your obligatory stand-up bass and sax but also includes heavy West African influences. It drops the schizophrenic tendencies that dominate a majority of the album to make for something that’s not only reminiscent of a song but is actually good.
“Mbira” is the only standout, however. Like JT to N’Sync. The rest of the album is better summarized by a track like “Crab Cakes” which is like a seizure set to music.
City of the Future challenges the norms of typical song writing by stopping and restarting, changing the melody mid-song several times and with instrumentals and solos that travel into some far off land never to return. But the musical constructs that Beep refuses to adhere to on the album exist because they help to convey the artist’s point as well as keep the interest of the listener.
Beep asks with this album, “Why not” and to them I retort, “Because it’s nonsensical noise.” Or, in other words, it’s my burrito infused version of a Jackson Pollock: It’s –Beeeep!—[expletive].