Beatsystem

In the classical avant-garde they would probably call this album musique concrete; certainly Pierce is a big enough fan of John Cage to include the late composer's manipulated voice on several tracks. But this is contemporary ambient and more listenable than most of Cage's tape experiments.

artist:
Beatsystem

country of origin:
UK

style(s):
Experimental ambient, environmental, avant-garde

decades active:
90's

essential releases:

  • Beatsystem (1997, Emit Records)

Reviewed by Mike G

Generally regarded as the most abstract release from the first era of legendary UK label Emit Records (1992-1998), the self-titled Beatsystem (1997) is an involving and surprisingly soulful listen, though it's rarely "beaty" despite composer Derek Pierce's choice of pseudonym. 

This one-off album from Pierce is sound collage, not only with an intelligent structure that knits it all together but also possessed of a real humanity. His way with Deep South gospel samples, for example, shows a composer with a gift for re-contextualising without destroying. "No More" lifts blues slide guitar and gospel vocal bytes out of their natural home and puts them in more surreal surroundings and, if anything, deepens their poignancy.

In the classical avant-garde they would probably call this album musique concrete; certainly Pierce is a big enough fan of John Cage to include the late composer's manipulated voice on several tracks. But the occasional jolting sounds and squalls of distortion aside, this is contemporary ambient and more listenable than most of Cage's tape experiments. Imagine wandering alone through a huge multi-story, multi-coloured museum where not only the exhibits but the very architecture come alive and tell stories, even if those stories don't have traditional beginnings and endings.

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