Beaten by Them is a five-piece instrumental band that has members from as far San Francisco, New York and Australia. Its newest EP, People Start Listening, is a slightly contradictory piece of music as it is both aggressive and ambient, supporting the argument that you don’t have to turn your amps all the way to 11 to rock out. Sometimes all you need is some organization and composition.
Beaten By Them’s signature sound is a true collage of sonic textures, mixing both instrumental characteristics of post-rock from the likes of Explosions in the Sky and a taste of Godspeed! You Black Emperor with the eclectic feel of Beck.
The diverse soundscapes created with just instruments sound like they could be nonmusical samples that make you wonder what you’re actually listening to. The result is a 20-minute piece of music that works as a perfect taste test for the band as it is probably its most accessible release as well as the closest thing to pop that the band has come to.
Keyboardist Max McCormick starts of the EP with “Damp Sky 3,” a tune with soft, soothing keys that lull the listener. There is an absence of percussion until about three-fourths through the song, when drummer Jeff Ardziejewski brings the song to full force with an almost tribal, yet utterly simple, drum fill that continues until the song fades away into the electronic keyboard dissonance it brought us in with.
Beaten by Them as a band works best together when the members bounce off each other and take the songs through unexpected twists and turns. The members know when to hold off and wait until it is necessary for them to add to the song. Cellist Boima Tucker’s appearances on stage remind you of a character in a movie that you don’t get to see very much of, but that distance is what fuels the magic of their mystery and helps pull all the members together.
This teamwork is most apparent on the closing track of the EP, “It Can Take You Higher,” where the band gets loud. The guitars on the track sound slightly country western-influenced, which leads the track to explode in a Pink Floyd manner, mesmerizing the listener the whole time.
This EP is short and sweet, especially considering the standards of the instrumental and post-rock genre. However, People Start Listening is a collection of tip-of-the-iceberg songs. They meld together in a way that is fresh. The song-to-song transitions don’t flow from one to another or fade from one to the next, but there is a definite end to each track if you were to listen to each song separately.
However, when you put the EP on as a whole, these silences and pauses don’t jump out as a scene change; they are apparent but not painfully obvious or boring, and they give the listener time to reflect. This gives People Start Listening extreme replay value. Even on repeat, this EP is a journey to listen to and serves as a perfect intro for new fans who will be waiting, and as the title suggests, listening for the next album.
Beaten By Them – People Start Listening tracklist:
- “Damp Sky 3”
- “Rigours of Madness”
- “Damp Sky 4”
- “It Can Take You Higher”