Following the release of their deeply affecting single “Until Next Time,” Beacon are today announcing their upcoming fourth album, Along the Lethewith an eclectic pair of new songs.
The first of two special collaborations (longtime friend and musical kindred spirit Matthew Dear also features on a song), comes from the legendary Colin Stetson who lent his genius on “Ostrich” a new single out today.
Watch “OSTRICH” (FEAT. COLIN STETSON)
“Ostrich” is an enchanting piano piece that invites multi-instrumentalist Colin Stetson to weave a tapestry of horns and woodwinds into its gentle chords and swells of noise. The centerpiece from Along the Lethe was inspired by a tuning technique used by Lou Reed and John Cale in The Velvet Underground. Their Ostrich tuning requires all strings on an instrument to be tuned to the same note, and with this foundation, Jacob and Thomas improvised on the various synths and instruments in their studio to give the song its hypnotic atmosphere. “Colin delivered his performance a day before Christmas Eve in 2021,” Thomas explains, “and with it being the first demo written for the record in late 2019, ‘Ostrich’ is both the oldest song on the record and the last to be finished .” Stetson tells us “ “What a joy to spin and whirl and call out into the ether with these lovely Beacon folks. Many thanks for having me on.”
“CAN’T TURN BACK”
Meanwhile “Can’t Turn Back” is an effervescent amalgamation of genres, timbres, and moods. Jacob Gossett‘s love for UK garage rhythms melts into twinkling synth arpeggios and atmospheric pads while Thomas Mullarney III sings with conviction and tenderness of losing himself in “the constant dark.” As part of a record written largely during quarantine, a specter of hopelessness and unending struggle looms large, but the more empowering music seems to keep the doom at bay as it tilts toward the sky.
Known for their simply intoxicating live show, Beacon are also announcing their North American fall tour, the duo recently announced their European run. All dates are listed below.
BEACON 2022 WORLD TOUR DATES
Sep 10th – Brooklyn, NY @ Public Records
Sep 13th – Boston, MA @ Middle East
Sep 14th – Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5
Sep 25 – Chicago IL @ Schubas
Oct 6 – Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz
Oct 15 – Portland, OR @ Holocene
Oct 23 – Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room
Nov 15 – Haarlem, Netherlands @ Patronaat
Nov 17 – Budapest, Hungary @ Turbina
Nov 18 – Glasgow, UK @ The Hug &w Pint
Nov 19 – Manchester, UK @ YES
Nov 20 – London, UK, @ Nells
Perceptions of time and its effects have changed dramatically in recent memory. At some point in the past, four years might have been an average wait between new albums for a busy touring band like Beacon. But in our current post-quarantine, perma-pandemic reality, four years can seem to contain lifetimes, not all which we may care to remember.
“I was haunted by this feeling of history intruding on our reality as lockdown descended on NYC,” says singer and producer Thomas Mullarney III of those surreal weeks in early 2020. ” I was reading a book called The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth about the apocalyptic aftermath of the Norman Invasion of England in 1066, written in a ‘shadow tongue’ combining old and modern english. This uncannyness followed me through the pandemic.”
It was during this strange, illusive period that Beacon wrote Along the Lethe, their fourth full-length record following 2018’s Gravity Pairs. The Lethe (Greek word for Oblivion) is one of the 5 rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology. The newly dead who drank from its waters lost all memory of their earthly lives. Composed and produced largely in quarantine, Along the Lethe is an album as much about the allure of forgetting tragedy as it is the need to maintain our connections to the past.
Its music is a vibrant reflection of the conflicts and contrasts inherent to rich interior lives set against the backdrop of an unseen external siege. Early in the record, “Pay My Debts” reckons with guilt and absolution while its weighty R&B cuts shapes out of the thick atmosphere, and later, “Nova” takes on a snappy disco edge amidst lyrics about letting go of what’s already been lost.
“I see Along The Let as Jacob and I preserving an extraordinary moment of our lives,” explains Thomas. “It contains the most difficult and exalted experiences we’ve had creating music together. Writing it down makes it impossible to forget.”
Along the Lethe could have only been born out of these unique circumstances. Both Thomas and Jacob found themselves chasing anxiety with fits of inspiration as they wrote. And after parting ways with their longtime record label months into the pandemic, their artistic bond was strengthened more than either expected. “Creatively, it felt like a magical time,” producer Jacob Gossett shares. While up in the Poconos at the start of quarantine, with nothing but his laptop and Minilogue synth, he broke a months-long musical silence writing demos upon demos and sending them directly to Thomas. “In some ways this was another fortunate side effect of what was going on,” Jacob says of his process. “I wasn’t bogged down by finding the perfect synth patch or kick, just very much in the moment and inside the initial spirit of an idea.”
These spirits—of ingenuity, dynamism, communion, reflection— joined early demos like “I’m The Answer” and “Show Me How,” to be conjured, captured, then contorted into 10 songs that deftly usher in a new era of Beacon . Lead single “Until Next Time” is a soft-glowing piano piece bolstered by the hearty backbone of hip-hop. Its genre-blurring tracks touch on slinky UK garage, ecstatic synth-pop, and avant-garde electronica, even as they wrestle with heavy lyrical themes like seduction of forgetting (“Oranges”) and the ecological intrusion of disease on civilization, sourced from Malaria research (“Harm”).
Album closer “Mile a Minute” somehow feels both unsettling and life-affirming with its sunny tones and skipping arpeggios at odds with a surreal vocal appearance from Matthew Dear and Automaton-delivered declarations of love. “How could I try to leave this?” Mullarney sings, “It’s everything that I want.” It’s no stretch to say Along the Lethe is Beacon’s most eclectic, expansive album to date. As Jacob describes it, “It feels like a record without restraints.”
Along the Lethe arrives on September 9th, 2022 on the band’s imprint, Apparent Movement.
Along the Lethe Tracklist:
01 Until Next Time
03 Pay My Debts
04 I’m The Answer
05 Can’t Turn Back
06 Ostrich (feat. Colin Stetson)
08 Show Me How
10 Mile A Minute (feat. Matthew Dear)
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