May 9, 2012

Review: Serious Beak-Huxwhukw

A lot of people only appreciate catchy things in music. They turn on the radio just to escape from their thoughts, and they mindlessly bob their head to the beat of the bass drum. There is another group of people, however, who are true music enthusiasts and are interested in more in-depth aspects of music such as harmony, rhythm, texture, and dynamics. The members of the independent Australian group Serious Beak clearly belong to the latter group, and their debut album Huxwhukw provides more than enough evidence.

Huxwhukw is an album that defines experimental music. It seems that the overall purpose of the album is to show the many ways that music can be manipulated. Typically what happens in the album is the group will play a riff over and over, but manipulate it each time. They create variation by adding harmonies, switching up the rhythm, putting accents in different places, or adding effects and subtle noises. Their transitions into other riffs are interesting as well because a listener never knows what is to come next. A lot of times the song will jump to a completely different genre, and the tempo may even change drastically. Really, I would have to say that the album signifies one big musical science experiment in which Serious Beak aims to explore all of the different aspects of music. For an open-minded listener, it is really interesting to hear the progression of the songs and all that they explore.

One mode of experimenting I found to be most unique was Serious Beak’s use of noise (I’m talking about just plain ol’ static noise, people). There’s many times throughout the album when the dynamic is building (the song moves from quiet to loud); when the movement begins, one will notice a very subtle noise in the background, so subtle in fact that the listener won’t even really know what it is. As the music progresses, the sound gets louder and louder and begins to clash with the music to create clutter. The movement reaches climax when the noise becomes so loud that the music can no longer be heard. It seems like a strange way to build, but by doing this the band is experimenting with how much clutter you can add to a song before it loses its quality as actual music. This is a very interesting and impressive mode of experimentation.

If you are genuinely interested in learning about music and all of its aspects, I recommend checking out this album. Through listening, one will gain a better understanding of how each aspect of the music (harmony, texture, etc.) plays a role in the overall composition.

Key Tracks: Han, Tuî / Tuô, Fljóta

Seth Wood

May 8, 2012

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