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Beyond-O-Matic - 2013 - "Relations at the Borders Between"

(72:52, Trail Records)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:

1.  In the C 5:13
2.  Tick Tock Rock 2:29
3.  Wish 15:40
4.  In Two 0s 12:56
5.  Turn, Switch, Trust 10:42
6.  But the Love 10:02
7.  Out the C 15:52

LINEUP:

Peter Fuhry  guitars; harp, melodica; flute; accordion; vocals
Kurt Stenzel  synthesizers 
Anthony Koutsos  drums 
With:
Edward Dahl  guitars 
Michael Harris  bass; bass synth

Prolusion. The US band BEYOND-O-MATIC was formed in the early 90s, releasing three full length albums and then going on hiatus. A brief reunion just after the millennium saw them record and release a fourth album, and then another state of hiatus was forthcoming. Sometime after 2010 they decided to have another go, and "Relations at the Border Between" documents the creations of the current version of the band. The album was released in 2013 through the US label Trail Records.

Analysis. Beyond-O-Matic specializes in a type of music that will primarily be described as improvised, psychedelic space rock. On this occasion the foundations of the tracks are recorded improvised sessions from 2012, that later have been treated with overdubs and effects. What sets this band slightly apart from other projects of a similar nature is that they have a fairly warm, organic sound without too many instances of dramatic synthesizer effects, and the inclusion of vocals to their creations. Opening track In the C kind of documents just how different this band is within the stated context, with fairly dampened droning and cosmic sounds supplemented with guitar details, serving as a careful foundation for high pitched male lead vocals on top. As far as the vocals are concerned, think Bee Gees in this particular case and you'll get a fairly good idea on how they sound, a fairly dramatic detail in this kind of arrangement. The brief, atmospheric Tick Tock Rock that follows revolves around guitar and vocal effects, and is a standalone feature on this production. The following five songs are rather different affairs altogether. All of them are epic length numbers, more clearly improvised in nature and clearly the result of recorded jams of a more or less planned nature. While all of them are subtly different in expression they share similar general characteristics. A certain emphasis on the use of light toned, echoing or reverberating guitar details appears to be a defining trait of this band, and warm, organic drones are another detail that probably deserves a description as a trademark feature. None of the instruments get to have any dramatic, high impact functions; the music is one that revolves around subtle details of the kind that merits intent listening. A recurring detail is a rather distinct, hypnotizing bass line, albeit more distinct than driving as such I might add. All the tracks feature vocals, and in that department In Two 0s sets itself ever so slightly apart by utilizing what I'd describe as Beatles-esque lead vocals and vocal harmonies; this particular song also sports somewhat more distinct references to bands like Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. Final track Out the C takes this album full circle. Apart from the reference to opening track In the C this song is also musically and vocally revisited in the latter phase of this concluding track. Otherwise I note that this is cohesive and fairly uniform production that has a curious, hypnotizing and rather compelling nature to it.

Conclusion. If you enjoy improvised psychedelic rock of the space rock variety, Beyond-O-Matic is a band that merits an inspection. Their arguably retro-oriented take on this type of music, sporting an organic 70's oriented atmosphere rather than a more modern one, is a compelling listen, and the inclusion of vocals does make these cosmic journeys a bit more accessible than the great number of all-instrumental space rock bands out there. A band and an album well worth an inspection by both junior and seasoned space cadets.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 1, 2014
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Trail Records
Beyond-O-Matic


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