Beacon, Geotic, bodyimage

Beacon’s third full-length record enters sight as a work of meticulous revision and refraction. Returning home to New York in 2016, four years and several tours since the duo's first release with Ghostly International, Thomas Mullarney III and Jacob Gossett knew the next direction would be different. Their roster of sounds, driven by loops and textures, suddenly felt confined to a muted grayscale. Together they embarked on open-ended sessions, adopting a more linear style of songwriting. They fundamentally constructed demos from piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, editing iterations almost ad infinitum, looking through each from a multitude of angles. Compositions expanded, while others pared back to where they began. Like the bending of light, this abstractive and patient process outlines a space and scale in which seemingly separate colors — minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals, and four-on-the-floor dance sequences — can coexist at different speeds, fanning out with spectral cohesion. A prismatic collection Beacon call ​Gravity Pairs​.
“All matter is created by dividing gravity into pairs,” said 20th-century scientific-mystic Walter Russell, whose idiosyncratic “new world-thought” writings and musically-informed schematic drawings (reflected in the record's artwork) were as fringe in their time as they are fascinating. Mullarney details the concept further: "Gravity pairs is a thing that Russell describes as the way the whole order of the universe is broken down, into pairs but also in a way that brings us together." This curiosity of natural phenomena permeates the album, represented most directly through the narrative device of light. The word features prominently on the wistful, soft-washed "Marion," which finds a harmonic guide in the hammered dulcimer. Samples ebb and flow beneath Mullarney's crystalline voice and a bed of feathery, pneumatic production, projecting into the mix at moments of brightness and clarity.
“Losing My Mind” is the duo’s boldest sonic departure. On the somber ballad, Mullarney sings of stability, whether romantic or spiritual, and the comfort in knowing someone remains in the absence of light. Written on piano, the song first swelled into a full-bodied arrangement before reverting to its original shell, as Gossett explains. “I came back from a trip and Tom had a new edit that was completely stripped back. Sometimes it just takes those infinite iterations to finally crack the code.”
With each iterative breakthrough, Beacon expanded the spectrum of these recordings as well as their possibilities in the live setting. The material can be played straight or in previous variations, enhanced by the recent addition of a drummer to their live band. “When you're writing music with that in mind, there are definitely certain tracks that we were like, ‘that's a bigger sound.’ It's going to occupy more space,” adds Gossett. Another epiphany came in the spring of 2017 when Beacon joined Tycho at Coachella and for dates in Europe, with Mullarney experimenting as the band’s first ever vocalist. “Just doing things at that scale, and at that point in the record, was really validating,” says Mullarney. “We came back with confidence to finish stuff. And to say that's next, it has to be.”
Two models exemplifying this mode are “Be My Organ” and “On Ice.” The latter is a smoke-filled still-life. Notes arpeggiate along a cool, motorik beat as Mullarney repeats “you’re not moving,” his vocals vaporized and echoed. The former elevates on a percussive build – one of the many fills from Tycho drummer Rory O'Connor - reaching its peak in the final strobe-lit minute. Then there’s a late album flourish, “The Road,” which, through pinwheeling repetitions beamed into four-on-the-floor framework, folds vibrating wavelengths into a symphony of fragmentary energies.
Russell, the mystic, believed in balance, a rhythmic exchange “between all pairs of opposite expressions.” On ​Gravity Pairs, ​Beacon channel the philosophy with pure pop mystique, slicing through dense and foggy dance and electronic music apparatuses to create something familiar but unique, melodic but cathartic. Rippling through these songs are iridescent synthesizer lines, stoic piano phrasing, dazzling percussion, posh harpsichord, understated xylophone, and a crisp voice in complete control. Taken as a whole, in their various combinations and compressions, these complementary and secondary tones unlock the lushest field of color, a universe of light.

SINGLE “LOSING MY MIND”
Status: first draft, July 9th, 2018
“Losing My Mind” is Beacon’s boldest sonic departure to date. On the somber ballad, Thomas Mullarney III sings of stability, whether romantic or spiritual, and the comfort in knowing someone remains in the absence of light. Written on piano, the song first swelled into a full-bodied arrangement before reverting to its original shell, as Jacob Gossett explains. “I came back from a trip and Tom had a new edit that was completely stripped back. Sometimes it just takes those infinite iterations to finally crack the code.”

You don’t need tedious platitudes about the transportative nature of music, but every so often—a few times a year at most—an album lives up to the possibility of effortless flight. Geotic’s Traversa is just that, an eight-song atlas that spans from the lightly buried memories in the back of your brain to the distant corners of this languidly spinning sphere.

“The whole inspiration of this record is borne of that feeling when travel is good and you can let your brain go where it wants to,” says Will Wiesenfeld, the Los Angeles composer and singer also known as Baths. “From the very beginning, music was more transportive for me than anything else. In all forms of media, I’m constantly gravitating towards things that allow me to feel something different from my day-to-day life.”

Each song on Traversa contains propulsive suites of startling beauty, summoning a different geographic locale, memory and mood. Released on Ghostly, these are gorgeous and loose guides offering the listener a starting point but letting their own interpretation run its course. It conjures similar emotional planes as The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights,” Todd Terje, and Hot Chip’s “The Warning,” but the art could only come from Wiesenfeld, whose sophomore album under his Geotic alias might be his most brilliant and beautiful creation.

The album’s genesis traces back to a New York release for the first Geotic album in March of last year. Seeking additional material for the set list, the spines of these songs become to take shape and ultimately sparked the homebound sessions and soft motion of Traversa. Knowing that it would ultimately come out on Ghostly gave him a higher standard of how he wanted things to sound, offering a psychic safety net, and allowing it to come out effortlessly without the need for overthinking. You can hear this sense of liberation in the songs. Geotic has built something that approximates the way life is actually lived, cataloguing those moments in between, the memories that can at once seem vivid and slightly off-center. If we spend most of our days wanting to escape the onslaught of news and media, the taxing rigors of stifling heat and bitter cold, the numbness of mundane existence, this is a temporary nepenthe, a refined antidote, a northwest passage offering ephemeral freedom and momentum.

Bodyimage

Not defined by the musical boundaries of their peers, bodyimage paints a vivid picture of nuanced emotion, framed by a tense and innovative sound.

With such a minimal approach, the resulting sound is a raw yet lush interpretation of the intimacy of self. Artfully developed through eclectic sonic arrangements and unconventional vocal processing, bodyimage demands those who listen reflect the continuous feeling of their art.

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