02 October 2020 (released)
08 April 2021
The scene is captured in dramatic black and white. A sleek convertible sports car hugs the curves of an open highway stretching along a balmy Mediterranean coast. The distant camera shot zooms in to land on a flawless woman with dark lipstick and a scarf containing her billowing locks, blowing the smoke from her cigarette into the sea air. Focus shifts to the man driving the car, immaculate James Bond suit with steely eyes locked on the road ahead. The camera pans gracefully around the automobile, lustfully eyeing its curves before the car leaves the camera in its dust, speeding off into the sunset.
Elegance, craftsmanship, power, luxury. The all-new Beatnik Neon.
This is the mood created by the hybrid of styles on Yoreself, the latest full-length release from Houston duo Beatnik Neon. The record is moody, expanding to sprawling and epic, deriving its highly dramatic sonic signature from the juxtaposition of hip hop beats and deep synthesizer with classical elements of cello and grand piano. This concoction creates an evocative collection of pieces that feature guest appearances by Christine Nicole Paul Simmons, Christopher Greaney (Bel Ronin), and MIEARS, adding their flavour to the tracks laid down by the original duo of Nolan Farmer (Percussion, Synth, Guitar, Bass) and Yann McBreton (Cello, Piano).
A piano dripping with reverb and a swooping cello intertwine to introduce the opener 'Colors'. The soundscape modulates to give rise to a female vocal joined by crackling percussion. The beat comes down in heavy steps while a nimble bass navigates the spaces in between. There's a sense of performative grandeur like when Beyonce or Jay-Z are joined by a full band and orchestra for some larger-than-life reimagining of one of their hits. After a long intro of sci-fi atmospherics, The Cure kicks in with a modern r&b flavour like the Weeknd's slower jams but with darker more introspective lyrics.
The title track has a late-career Bowie feel with its wildly errant saxophone and melancholic sway. Vocalist Christine Nicole's vocal duets with a lower octave of herself. The drums languish in kind with the slow bows of the weighty cello as the milky guitars collect like slow landing waves on the shore. A full moon lighting the open ocean. The closer 'Nocturne' lifts and dives on updrafts with a chromatic rise and fall like that of Pink Floyd's 'Echoes'. Farmer's guitar finds moments of Gilmour-esque glory navigating McBreton's lush string and piano work.
Beatnik Neon takes the strikingly sensational combination of cello and piano and hits it with splashes of modernity. Wistful, opulent, cinematic. The themes explore the throws of passion with a sense of grandiosity and sophistication. Perfect for your next drive to Monte Carlo.