Neat Beats’ debut album, Cosmic Surgery, is astral journey from start to finish. The album, to me, seems to have no clear genre; it has an experimental and instrumental feel to its entirety. But that don’t let that limit your first glance at this album, there is a colossal range to their influences. I see elements of breakbeat, trip-hop, jazz and the lightest piano melodies that seem to go with some absurd drums.
Graffiti on a Tuesday Night is a favourite on the web; it is composed of a looped drum beat, with a variety of samples echoing each other in different languages Neat Beats didn’t stop there, with a presence of a cello, piano melodies and an acoustic guitar. At a cool calm 90 beats per minute it really gives track a look towards its album title name, Cosmic Surgery. A track that seems to have been stitched together in the fabric of space. As the last voice sample states, we are down to twelve.
The standout track to me, would have to be Why Would We Need Brakes? It goes in with a piano melody that somehow seems to switch from being the forefront of the track to the back of the track to let the breakbeat like drum loops in. When the drums come in, there is constant creativity not letting each variation become familiar to the listener’s ear. Being under three minutes long may seem too short but I see this as Neat Beats telling us the journey must continue!
This Machine Destroys Everything is a enchanting follow up, reminding me of Flying Lotus with his Cosmogramma album. Each track seems similar yet entirely different from the last, not keeping us familiar or comfortable. One for the Road, Two for the Vast Vacuum slows it down as more of an interlude track with minor tones, slow crescendo and diminuendo cellos and a female voice singing in the background. Science of my Girlfriend keeps the slow pace, relaxing the listener as though he/she is floating through space. Next up, is the trip-hop Turning on the Large Hadron Collider, keeping the mellow feel from the last two tracks, with the piano making a return to slowly uplift us.
Video Game Characters then wakes us up with loud 8-bit samples bringing out Neat Beats experimental side to the maximum. The drums subvert the track by mellowing itself in the background; added to this is a wind back sample that keeps us in tune to the characters as they run around in the void of space.
If I had to describe Neat Beats as unpredictable and crazy genii using a track, it would be Kung Fu of the Astronaut Drunkard; it has a certain underground dubstep element combined with trip-hop ideas and voice samples that literally make me laugh a little (give it a listen and you will understand), as I bop my head more and more. Neat Beats really makes you regret the end of a track but thankfully the next track doesn’t come too soon.
In the penultimate track, a story is told. Starting up with jittery sample as though the sample is turned on and off; the initial cymbal pattern which reminds me nineties mainstream hip-hop. It continues goes into a torrent of voices reading numbers out with violins and calming beat. As we reach part three it is slowed down before momentarily being put back to the original speed of the track. The track ends slowly with almost tiring feel to it, not without dropping a bit of trip-hop craziness.
I Hope I think of Bike Riding When I’m Dying, is pure sentimentality to one’s life. So powerful and emotive, it just moves you. Neat Beats, for this track alone, won me over. If there is one track you have to listen today it is I Hope I think of Bike Riding When I’m Dying. Fenner and Haynes have done a wonderful job at their first album. I cannot wait for their follow up and they need far more recognition for their talents!