Unstable Journey - Beast Market - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Unstable Journey - Beast Market

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2016-05-08

It’s possibly while listening to the ominous crawl of eight-minute instrumental ‘The Wasteland’ that it hits me: Beast Market is an impressive piece of work. While 2013’s A Fire in the Tree’s LP saw the band expand their sonic palette, it’s the arrival of Beast Market that sees Unstable Journey really reach for the stars. Clearly taking their time to craft something special, the band has produced a near 75-minute opus of ambitious and deeply immersive psych-rock.

Like all journeys, it makes sense to start at the beginning. The trip begins with the Siamese Dream-esque shimmer of ‘Weird Trash UFO’, the song stretching out over 10 glorious minutes and setting the fuzzy, dreamlike tone that runs through much of this LP. The album shifts between this almost tranquil dream state and something that feels more akin to a fevered, restless nightmare.

Take the compact, fuzz-punk of ‘Clear Lines’ as vocalist/guitarist Ian Mitchell snarls and screams through a wall of propulsive riffs.  At times it’s reminiscent of the noisy, troubled psych that J Spaceman and Sonic Boom used to offer up in their Spacemen 3 days. The tense rattle of ‘Drag’ comes next; its dark, relentless march recalling, in spirit at least, a heavier incarnation of The Cure’s anthem ‘A Forest’. None of these references are particularly overt, it’s simply an attempt to signpost some of the sonic signatures that appear within the albums sprawling psych-rock tapestry.

‘Life in the Echo Chamber’ offers some breathing space as the band return to a more blissful, meditative sound. Mitchell’s vocals have returned to a whisper as we hear him sigh through the smoke, “so hold on”.  As obvious as it may seem to point out, there’s a real sense of a journey taking place throughout Beast Market, the band willing us to follow them into the unknown.

Mitchell’s vocals are often buried deep in the mix, offering snapshots rather than the complete picture. This ultimately adds to the satisfying sense of mystery that cloaks the entirety of Beast Market, an album that isn’t going to give up its secrets easily. The aforementioned ‘The Wasteland’ comes next, a towering and foreboding instrumental that eventually gives way to the cool, Daydream Nation style fuzz of  ‘Commercial Street (Retune Yr Ears)’.

‘Further’ is a more restrained, almost crestfallen piece that strips the band’s sound right back and offers a moment of vulnerability in the process.  The cool-as-fuck ‘Air Diet’ ramps the volume back up to 11 before ‘Tear it Apart’ offers what might just be the bands mission statement as they repeatedly chant, “tear it apart and start again”.

The next two songs are perhaps my favourite moments on the whole album. I say moments yet the ‘The Maintenance of Sameness’ is a near 20 minute goliath. The song begins with cymbals and wash- after-wash of ambient guitars, like waves breaking on the shoreline.  It’s a stunning, melancholic yet transformative piece of music that demands your complete and unconditional surrender. Get some headphones and really give this song the time it deserves, you won’t be disappointed.

The journey comes to an end with the meditative ‘The Universe Will Sing for You’. The song finds Mitchell alone with his guitar, offering calm reassurance as he sings “the universe will sing for you/and everyone will sing along”. It’s the most nakedly beautiful track on the whole LP.

Beast Market is an album that deserves to be consumed whole, a well-structured and considered piece of work that hangs together extremely well. It’s a journey worth taking. 

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