Throughout this site’s 10 year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon. Now,. as you may recall, the act’s third album, 2018’s Gravity Pairs found the duo — Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gussett (production, keys, synths) — writing material that was a sonic left turn from their previously released work.
Mullarney and Gussett embarked on open-ended writing sessions, in which they adopted a more linear style of songwriting instead of the loop and texture-driven method they had long used. The initial demos they wrote were built around piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, which they then edited into a number of iterations, which saw the New York-based JOVM mainstays looking through each individual version from a multitude of different angles and directions.
As they continued, they expanded upon some songs and pared others band. Much like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, patient and almost painterly creative process of Gravity Pairs eventually turned the material they wrote into a space in which wildly different colors, tones and textures — in this case, minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist simultaneously and at different speeds. With each iteration, the duo discovered they could easily expand upon how they presented the material within a live setting: they could play the same material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires. And while Gravity Pairs pushed the JOVM mainstays sound and songwriting approach in an adventurous new direction, the album’s material remained imbued with a vulnerability and aching yearning.
Since the release of Gravity Pairs, the members of Beacon have been extremely busy: Last year they opened for Nick Murphy. during his North America tour, which included a stop at Brooklyn Steel. They shared a series of stripped back, live studio sessions and they released a remix album, which featured edits by Elkka, Helios, and CRi. They began 2020 with a meditative, piano-led take on the Pixies‘ “Wave of Mutilation.” Inspired by the slower tempo and phrasing of the UK Surf B-side, which showcased the original’s mutability — and then they went off on a headlining European tour, which stopped in my second favorite city in the entire world, Amsterdam.
“Feel Something” is the first bit of new, original material from the JOVM mainstays since Gravity Pairs and the track finds the duo continuing to prioritize discovery and experimentation in their songwriting approach. Centered around blown out boom-bap beats, a sinuous bass line, atmospheric yet menacing electronics, jagged synth arpeggios, shimmering guitar lines, a motorik-like groove and Mullanary’s plaintive falsetto, the song’s lyrics paint a surrealistic and disturbing vision of desire and control. offering an almost lived-in perspective of a codependent and dysfunctional relationship.
Beacon have released an accompanying visual featuring a kaleidoscopic and undulating array of colors, moving along to the song’s motorik-like grooves. Without touring on the horizon as a result of the pandemic, Mullarney and Gussett teamed up with their friends at inlet.tv to create a 24/7 steaming channel featuring live visuals from the band’s extensive and lengthy touring history, which you can check out on their website — https://www.beaconband.tv. The channel is also syndicated on YouTube, where users can engage in an active chat.
Each week through the duration of the pandemic, the members of the JOVM mainstays will be releasing a new live visualizer from their archives to the channel and will utilize it going forward to broadcast studio sessions, Q&As and premiers, leading up to new music in 2021.