I’ve been suffering from a bit of writer’s block lately. Probably due to work exhaustion, general burn-out, and an overarching lack of inspiration. So bear with me, while I attempt to extract some semblance of a post from my somewhat depleted thoughts.
Given the above, I’ve decided to start my first official June entry with an eclectic bit of world-fused electronica from Beats Antique. I figured something overtly eccentric might jar the old inspiration into actualization. We’ll see … The track in question is a Beats Antique remix of another act, Filastine, who have a single titled “Colony Collapse.” Honestly, I don’t know anything about Filastine, except that vocals come from Nova, who I’m also not familiar with. And I don’t know what the original track sounds like. So this remix will have to do. Quite frankly, I’m not sure it matters, since this one has Beats Antique written all over it.
Anyway, I’m going to slip into a tangent for a moment, and talk about Beats Antique, mainly because I find them so damn interesting. They’ve been around since 2007, formed in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically Oakland, so they’re somewhat near and dear to my NorCal roots. Plus, I had a chance to see their “Shadowbox” tour a few years back at the Mayan, which was a wild and whimsical trip and a half. Between the belly dancing, cheer leaders, costumed performers, and a giant inflatable demon-looking thing, the music itself proved to be just the tip of the proverbial instrumental iceberg.
If you hadn’t guessed by my aforementioned description, Beats Antique are a fully formed performance art band, theatrical and choreographed for maximum visual and audio stimulation. The onstage moves come from belly dancer and performance artist Zoe Jakes, while songwriter and multi-instrumentalist David Satori and drummer Tommy Cappel flush out the sound. There’s typically 2 or 3 additional players on stage, depending on the tour set-up. But the core trio is where it starts.
Musically, they’ve got an expansive ethnic slant, meshing Middle Eastern, African, and Indian rhythms and melodies in a whirligig of deviant sonic dervishes. There’s also a slightly whimsical carnival vibe, mixed with a manic marching band smash and a caravan of gypsy folk rock. And of course, there’s the requisite heavy electronic dub and dance aura, flanked by a groovy and upending array of live instrumentation, particularly of the freeform jazz motif. To top it all off, songs are composed to complement Zoe’s belly moves, which is front and center during any of their wildly eclectic live shows.
So back to “Colony Collapse.” I caught this one yesterday, while I was driving to Glendale, which is like a 45 minute drive from my home. I heard a bunch of stuff, since I had plenty of time to kill. But this one stood out for obvious reasons. It feels like a warped Bollywood dubstep number, like ethnic taffy, sticky, elastic, and expanding and contracting with electro breakbeat rumble and roll. It’s pretty weird, but in a wonderfully ambitious and flamboyant way. There’s strings and sitars, wind chime percussion, staccato vocals, and deep organic bass, all bundled in the rhythm of dub spirit.
Although a track that’s credited to Filastine and Nova, “Colony Collapse” was released on the 2012 Beats Antique album “Contraption, Vol. II.” There’s also a “Contraption, Vol. I,” which came out in 2009. But that’s another story. If you follow their evolution, each album tends to flow in its own thematic stream and geography, drawing sounds and sights from a particular breed of worldly roots. Yet, it all still sounds undeniably Beats Antique.
On that note, “Contraption, Vol. II” tends to veer a bit broader than some of their more recent endeavors, zig-zagging across the Middle East and Asia, with an electro grind that seems hellbent on adventurous experimentation.
I’m just going to wrap it up there, as I’ve probably rambled a bit too much. So I’ll leave you with Beats Antique’s exquisitely eclectic remix of whimsy for Filastine’s “Colony Collapse.” Enjoy!
“Colony Collapse” from the 2012 album “Contraption, Vol. II.”