If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past five or six years, you’d likely be familiar with JOVM mainstays, New York-based electronic music duo Beacon. Comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production), the duo caught my attention with the release of their debut EP, For Now and their debut full-length effort, The Ways We Separate, both of which pair Mullarney’s aching and yearning vocals with a minimalist and spacious production consisting of chilly synths and wobbling bass to craft a sound that meshes elements of R&B, house music and electro pop. Thematically speaking, the New York-based duo’s work explores the complexities of and nuances of human relationships including the difficulties of truly connecting with others in a society that seems to value superficiality and platitudes; the confusion between love and lust and how they drive every relationship we’ll ever have; how longing can quickly turn into life-consuming obsession; how relationships are driven by both selfishness and selflessness — often simultaneously; how relationships can bring out both the best and worst qualities of ourselves — simultaneously; how our pasts continually influence our present and future, and so on. And as a result, their material possesses a sense of regret over what was and what could have been, as well as a sense of dread over fucking it all up from your own blindness, selfishness and stupidity. (Personally, their material has long struck me as being seemingly much like the sound of what’s really inside our heads and hearts when we’re alone and forced to confront our innermost demons and fears.)
Interestingly, Beacon’s soon-to-be released sophomore effort, Escapements is about time and the baggage it both creates and brings. Unsurprisingly, the album’s title is reportedly influenced by clock mechanics — escapements are timekeeping regulators designed to transfer energy at a constant and regular pace. As Mullarney explained in press notes ” I was attracted to this concept because of the entropy it implies. Friction and changes in amplitude over time mean[s] every escapement, no matter how well crafted, will lose its accuracy and effectively slow down time via its own decay.”
Featuring drumming from Tycho‘s Rory O’Connor, the material on Escapements was written, revised, refined and recorded over the course of about nine months at Beacon’s Brooklyn-based home studio and Gary’s Electric and the album reveals that the duo experienced a period of restless experimentation that included changing their songwriting and production approach to follow wherever their muses take them. And as the members of Beacon note, it meant trying out new studio tricks and recording techniques — sometimes on the fly, essentially capturing the free-flowing energy of the creative process. Last November, I wrote about the album’s first single “Preserve,” a heavily house music-leaning single consisting of woofer and tweeter rattling bass, layers of undulating and cascading synths and skittering and stuttering drum programming parked with Mullarney’s achingly yearning falsetto — that gives the song a plaintive and urgent sense of need and desire. The album’s second single, opening track “IM U” was as Stereogum suggests, “subtly cinematic,” as Gusset’s production paired skittering drum programming, layers of wobbling and shimmering synth stabs with Mullarney’s plaintive pleas to do seemingly anything to please a lover, who seems both incredibly difficult to please and fed up with Mullarney’s narrator. And as a result the song possessed an obsessive despair over the narrator’s uncertainty and the uncertainty of the relationship at the core of the song.
The album’s third and latest single, album title track “Escapements” pairs layers of shimmering and twinkling synths, skittering drum programming (that sounds quite a bit like the mechanism that moves watch hands), swirling electronics with Mullarney’s plaintive cooing in a mournful yet breezy song that evokes time relentlessly rushing forward, as well as the accretion of guilt and regret that can build up in one’s live over time. Much like “IM U,” the song’s narrator is describing an uncertain and confusing relationship in which there seems to be a push and pull.