Over the course of the nearly six year history of this site, there have been a number of artists that I’ve written about, who have become mainstays, and unsurprisingly, a number of those artists have released material throughout that same six year period that have become part of my life’s soundtrack. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over that period, you may be familiar with the 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, wobbling bass. Essentially their sound seems to mesh elements of R&B, house music and electro pop while thematically their material explores the complexities of human relationships — including the difficulties of truly connecting with others in a world and society that seems to value superficiality and platitudes; the confusion between love and lust and how they drive every romantic relationship we’ll ever have; how longing can quickly turn into dangerous, life-consuming obsession; how almost all 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 so on. And as a result, their material possesses a deep feeling 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. In some way, their material strikes me as being much like the sound of our own consciousness, of what’s really inside of our heads and hearts when we’re alone and forced to confront our own inner lives.
Interestingly, Beacon’s forthcoming (and long-awaited) sophomore effort, Escapements is about time and the baggage it both creates and brings. And perhaps 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 interestingly, their forthcoming effort reveals that the duo in a period of restless experimentation that includes changing their songwriting and production approach 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.
Back in 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 latest single, opening track “IM U” is as Stereogum suggests, “subtly cinematic,” as Gusset’s production pairs 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 possesses an obsessive despair over the narrator’s uncertainty and the uncertainty of the relationship at the core of the song.
Directed by Charles Berquist, the recently released video for “IM U” possesses a harsh yet striking beauty as it features enormous overhead pans of the desert, which makes the video’s three central characters — a man dragging a dead body through the desert and two people cloaked entirely in black seem infinitesimally small and unimportant. At one point, we see the man build what appears to be a crude grave/bonfire — before the cloaked woman touches the grave. Woven in between this hauntingly eerie setting are series of geometric shapes moving about. Towards the end of the video, we see the dead man’s feet moving, suggesting that the cloaked figures have brought him back to life. In any case, the video forces the viewer to come up with their own interpretation to what they’re watching and what it all means.
Beacon will be on tour during February and March to support the new album and it’ll include a Bowery Ballroom set on February 11. Check out tour dates below.
02/04 Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s Tavern*
02/05 Detroit, MI @ Majestic Cafe*
02/06 Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel*
02/10 Boston, MA @ Great Scott*
02/11 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom*
02/12 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle*
02/13 Washington, DC @ Song Bird*
02/16 Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5*
02/17 New Orleans, LA @ Hi-Ho*
02/18 Houston, TX @ Rudyard’s*
02/19 Austin, TX @ The Parish*
02/20 Tlaltizapán, MX @ Bahidora*
02/22 El Paso, TX @ The Lowbrow Palace*
02/23 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar*
02/24 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar*
02/25 Los Angeles, CA @ Bottom of the Hill*
02/26 San Francisco, CA @ Noise Pop*
02/27 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios*
02/28 Seattle, WA @ Nectar Lounge*
03/01 Boise, ID @ Treefort*
03/02 Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court*
03/03 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake*
03/04 Wichita, KS @ Barleycorns*
* w/ Natasha Kmeto