Elektryk Bestia (Self-Released, 06.2010)
For: Pink Floyd, Beta Chicks, King Crimson
Byline: I finally break down and use psychedelic as an adjective. But this time I mean it. Synth-based prog rock out of NY state.
Writing for a small blog like the TOME yields itself to some pretty interesting tangents. If you look at our previous posts the breadth ranges from misanthropic noise acts like the Drowner/Sterile Garden split to Platinum selling Swedish pop acts (see Robyn below). Submissions come to us from just about everywhere, exotic places like Norway, Japan...Denver. I am not, in any way, trying to sound boastful; but finding, and subsequently listening to and interpreting music that I would never hear any other way is the single most rewarding thing about writing for this blog. If you are ever thinking about starting one, do it.
I have been trying to get a pulse on which vein of sub-categorized music floating out there in the interwebs the TOME assiduously covers, and have been coming up with nothing... and everything. I am using this sentence, as well as the first paragraph, to temper and justify one of the latest submissions into the TOME's growing arsenal of bands that I guarantee you have never heard of before you read this. Enter...Elektryk Bestia, from Binghamton, NY. Elektryk Bestia came to my attention by the way of Jarod Goff, a friend with impeccable music tastes. He was at a bar one night and heard Elektryk Bestia play what can only be called the most anti-bar rock imaginable. Bar Rock by definition is supposed to be grating, driving patrons to drink in order to drown out yet another cover of The Doobie Brothers "Give Me The Beat Boys." Elektryk Bestia sound more like a house-band to the milk bar where Alex and his droogs drink in A Clockwork Orange. A polished veneer, full of psychotropic atmospheric properties, but with a very real, and very dangerous, violence boiling beneath the surface.
Elektryk Bestia are at their best when they are at their most exploratory and experimental, utilizing two keyboards to fashion Vangelis-like synthscapes with broad strokes of psychedelic (I know I am a hypocrite for using this word) noise experiments. Think lengthy introductions of sound-art were lost with Dark Side of the Moon? I couldn't help but geek out to the totally awesome recording of a train panning from left to right on the album opener "Enter Bestia." Like I said, Elektryk Bestia succeeds in spades when they let their tightly structured proto-prog numbers slip into free-form, expansive improvised segues that allow the keyboards and lead guitar to wander into various slipstreams of textured ambience and improvised riffing. With that said, the major scale keyboard lines work best when kept out of the drivers seat. The guitar work is amply strong enough to carry the weight of the compositions, it is a wonder why the keyboards aren't kept as simply an exploratory vehicle, shading and filling in where the guitar and bass can't reach. Elektryk Bestia is also at its best when their songs are purely instrumental, the vocal driven tracks carry with them the typical trappings of your everyday rock band. Not bad if you are into that kind of thing, but as developed as Bestia's music is, the vocals feel cumbersome and expected. Bestia seem like they have just about anything up their sleeve, extended improvised bridges stretch out infinitely, synth lines Genesis would covet, and dark, textured atmospherics that literally appear out of thin air. Adding vocals full of double negatives, narrated drug trips, etc... seem too bald-faced, too apparent for a band thriving on doubling back on your expectations.
While such psychotropic milk bars don't exist (except probably somewhere in Holland) Elektryk Bestia will have to settle for setting the faces of bar patrons and basement show attendees afire in Binghamton, NY.