Since Beacon has toured with Tycho they have found themselves some proper exposure from singing live with Sarah Barthel from Phantogram to hitting the road with How To Dress Well. The duo will hopefully be all over the states and EU this summer and fall, until then just enjoy the stream above.
Thomas Mullarney and Jacob Gossett, aka Brooklyn duo Beacon, introduced themselves to the world with the No Body and For Now EPs, both released last year on Ghostly International. The EPs were united by minimalist, R&B-influenced instrumentation, and also by a lyrical theme, with both serving as meditations on the darkness that underpins the most intense of human emotions: love.
The duo’s debut album The Ways We Separate both consolidates and develops these ideas. The album focuses, as the title suggests, on the idea of separation — both within the context of relationships and in a more intimate, psychological sense. As Mullarney explains, “The narrative contained inside The Ways We Separate deals with two kinds of separation: one where two entities grow apart, and the other where we grow apart from ourselves. Over the course of a relationship, the two sometimes happen together, one being the result of the other.”
Desires, passions and regrets are central to the songs on The Ways We Separate, which take a variety of perspectives to construct a nuanced reflection on the album’s central theme. ‘Between the Waves’ draws a clever analogy between relationships and soundwaves falling out of phase: “I know all the ways we separate/ Where we start to fade at different frequencies.” ‘Overseer’ catalogues a parting of the ways with discomfiting clarity: “Isn’t it fine?/ Taking it slow?/ Watching you watch me walk out your door.” And album closer ‘Split in Two’ explores how the extremes of love and loss can take you far away from being the person you thought you were, making explicit the connection between the two ideas of separation: “What I’d do for you?”, sings Thomas Mullarney, “Split myself in half/ Divided into two.”
Musically, The Ways We Separate finds Beacon working with a richer sonic palette than ever before —as Gossett says, “The production on this album is much more expansive than anything we’ve done thus far. We spent a lot of time exploring new gear and experimenting with how to pull a wide range of sound out of various instruments. Some of the key sonics that shaped this LP are analogue synthesis, lots of heavily processed guitar work, and vocal layering/processing.” While the abiding mood remains that of late-night introspection, the production draws from elements of hip hop and a wide gamut of electronic music, marrying intricate beats and subtle textures to honeyed pop melodies that belie the album’s conceptual depth. Rarely has bleakness sounded so pretty — this is a record that’s deceptively, compellingly beautiful, an exploration of a place both discomfiting and darkly seductive.
Come say hello, i’ll probably be DJing early and you know the rest of the roster is worth it. I’ll try to be giving out some of the new Ghostly stickers on this beautiful half satin matte finish. Sadly I don’t think Scott will be able to make it, maybe he’ll drop in, here’s hoping.
We’re honored to be able to share Benoit Pioulard’s new album Hymnal on its day of release, he is probably the blogs most written about and loved artist for many years. Let this one play in full, my highlights include: Reliquary, Excave, Margins and Litiya. Enjoy.
Coming down to the last few days before the release of the new PVT LP, ISO50 readers are the first to appreciate the beauty of the final track off Homosapien. “Ziggurat” is a perfect closer for an album that represents new achievements for the band’s sound but still holding very true to their talents of making intricate music seem effortless.
Out February 12th, 2013 on Felte
Love & Defeat
We are really proud to be sharing such a lush album with you guys this weekend from Billow Observatory. I finally was able to sit all the way thru it today and it really came together as one of the most cohesive albums of the year. The sound is submerged in Loscil like drones but every so often you feel like everything comes up for air.
Time. It all comes back to time.
The self-titled debut album from Billow Observatory — the duo comprising Danish producer Jonas Munk, aka Manual, and Auburn Lull guitarist Jason Kolb — is a record that has been nearly a decade in the making, and a record that unfolds at a stately, unhurried pace, its subtleties revealing themselves with repeated listening. Its sound reflects its creators’ diverse backgrounds — Kolb’s ambient guitar work, along with Munk’s experience in film music and the minutiae of sound engineering — as well as their patience and devotion to their craft.
The genesis of Billow Observatory came in summer 2004, when Munk was first introduced to Kolb’s work with Auburn Lull. A split EP between Manual and Auburn Lull was mooted, and although this didn’t materialize, the duo began exchanging ideas and audio files, finally meeting in person during 2007 when they played a show together in Michigan.
As time passed, their work began to coalesce into what would become Billow Observatory — as Munk says, “We never expected to be working on material for six years, but something very exciting took shape as soon as we started working together and we had to follow that idea to the end.” The process of following that idea was slow and deliberate, one that required meticulous attention to detail and nuance. The resultant album is the work of two musicians at the top of their game, pouring years of experience and expertise into the creation of a record where every sound is there for a reason.
Munk adds, “The basis for most of this material comes from guitars and effects devices but every bit has been processed and treated with software… I didn’t use a lot of different effects – the focus on my part has been on shaping each bit of sound to perfection, still maintaining the character of a guitar but turning it into something that doesn’t sound ‘played’. I think of a lot of this material as sounding as if it comes from surroundings rather than from hands touching instruments.”
The music the duo have created is immersive and somehow timeless, evoking places and ambiences as exotic as some of those that give the songs their names. “I remember we would sometimes ask each other questions about random places with interesting names that we thought the other person would know something interesting about,” Kolb explains. “I would ask Jonas about the Baltic Sea, Scandinavia, or something in that general area of the world and he would ask something similar about Michigan or the Great Lakes. I think we were influenced by the idea of creating music that told vague, semi-fictitious histories of places we knew very little about.”
In an age where we race from one instant to the next, never stopping to think about the moment we’re inhabiting, Billow Observatory is a record that rewards patience and, yes, time. “[The album] is dense with emotion and meticulously crafted,” says Munk, “while feeling light and airy when listening to the song as a whole. I have had this album for over a year and it still withstands the test of time.”
Today, we will have the ISO50 pop shop open for ONE DAY ONLY at the official Nightlife pre-Treasure Island party at the California Academy of Sciences. We will have a merch booth with all new and classic posters and shirts available and Scott will be there to sign and hang out.
NightLife takes place Thursday nights (6-10pm) at the California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco More information here.
Also, there will be a special live performance by Shigeto and a DJ set by me Jakub aka Heathered Pearls. Hope to see you at 6pm, ticket info here.
Our friend Jamison is putting out his album “The Inner Mansions“on November 6, 2012, on Lefse Records. He let us share an exclusive track and video for our readers. What I love about is he keeps the beauty of an expanding ambient track and adds vox and instruments that doesn’t take away from that base.
I see even bigger things happening for Soundcloud in the future, mainly the community within it coming closer so I decide to start a guide of people to follow if you like what’s on ISO50. Below I started off with frequent users that make your feed more enjoyable with quality posts.
This week we start off with San Francisco locals and good friends Yourstru.ly who are one of my favorites to follow on Soundcloud, they have plenty of material and are always actively finding and sharing new artists. Moderna has a growing collection of short mixes that always are perfect for weekend nights, making her someone to see if you’re in LA. Since astrangelyisolatedplace started their label they are one of the higher quality labels in the ambient world, recently they got to share a new Markus Guentner EP with the world which is undeniably lush and perfect.