This week South London trio Beaty Heart give method to their madness. After years of waiting in the wings sporting high-res tropical pop, they’re bringing their collective oddities together into a debut full-length, ‘Mixed Blessings’. Anyone anticipating a plain-tasting, middle-of-the-road first work needs to think again - this is a loopy, sample-heavy, giddy debut. It smacks of enthusiasm, the sound of three guys putting all their weird energy into each undying second. Needless to say these guys probably don’t sleep all that much, instead finding time to nestle up with six-hour long waves of delay loops, lying down with one eye closed as the other focuses on trippy projections screened onto a bedroom wall. Their track-by-track guide was never going to be a standard affair, let’s face it. But they’ve really embraced this challenge. See the guide below a stream of the record in full.
The first recording we produced in the studio of ‘Banana Bread’ was around four and a half minutes long and was all dense and doughy. Some unfortunate circumstances led to us having to take two months off from recording the album, which was really irritating at the time, but it allowed us to look back at what we had done so far, and reassess what we were trying to achieve. When we got back to the studio we took out all the wishy washy crap and just focused on the bare bones of the song, and we reapplied that methodology to a number of other songs on the record.
‘Seafood’ was a tune from the get go. When we started writing the record we talked frequently about writing these kind of warped, back to front pop songs, taking aspects of pop music that everybody was familiar and comfortable with and then pushing them to the extreme so that these elements felt wild and out of control. This song feels a little like sunburn, or tramps drinking Kestrel at the beach, dancing in the shallows.
Kanute’s Comin’ Round
Every self-respecting psych band needs a weed song, man.
The way we write music usually stems from these little loops we make on our samplers, they are usually pretty dense and incoherent, just because as the ideas grow, new things get added to the loop. When we get down to recording the actual song, or playing it live, we deconstruct these loops, work out how to play them on different instruments, and take the melodic elements in other directions. The result of this is that we have countless little loops left over that we never got round to working on, or that didn’t work as songs when we deconstructed them. Sometimes we play them live in between songs when we are faffing around swapping positions on stage, and we thought it would be a good representation of our live sound to have these little interlude moments on the record too
This was the last song we recorded for the album, and it was originally intended to be a B-side, but now I think this song might be my favourite on the record. It was originally written to be played on the piano, which sounds real lovely, and hopefully one day we’ll be able to show people a live version of it played just on piano, but we decided that it would sound out of place on the record, so we revamped it.
Get The Gurls
‘Get The Gurls’ has been around for quite a long time for us. It started as a short drum and accordion sample loop that charlie made in his bedroom ages ago. One day we found it and made it into a really raw song in about five minutes, we recorded it pretty much by accident whilst we were trying to record a different song. We played it live quite a lot when we first started out, and it was quite raucous, and very loud. It was so intense that we ended up hating playing it live, and someone eventually deleted the original sample ‘by accident’. However, we played acoustic versions of the song a couple of times, which lead to us recreating it for ‘Mixed Blessings’, using elements of the old version and the acoustic version.
This song is based on Henri Rousseau’s painting, The Dream, which we all saw in the flesh when we visited NYC last summer. In the painting there is a woman on a red couch, lounging in Rousseau’s vivid interpretation of the jungle, and next to it there is a plaque with a poem on it:
“Yadwigha in a beautiful dream
Having fallen gently to sleep
Heard the sounds of a reed instrument
Played by a well-intentioned (snake) charmer.
As the moon reflected
On the rivers (or flowers), the verdant trees,
The wild snakes lend an ear
To the joyous tunes of the instrument.”
This song was the only song that we wrote from start to finish in the studio. We played it on the plush grand piano that was in the studio, yet when we got around to recording it, we didn’t like the polished sound of the grand, so we screwed around with the mics and some effects to make the piano ‘sound shitter’. It’s our ‘lounge’ track.
“When we got back to the studio we took out all the wishy washy crap”
‘Lekka Freakout’ is another of the songs on the record, like ‘Get The Gurls’, ‘Kinder’ and ‘Kanute’s Comin’ Round’, that has existed in various different forms. The vocal melody was recycled from a demo version of ‘Lekka Freakout’ that we did years ago, the middle eight part was taken from an acoustic thing we wrote in NYC, and we worked these existing parts in with a new loop and guitar melody that James wrote.
The story behind this one is the same as ‘Opal Shred’. Another thing I would add about the interludes on the record is the influence that The Olivia Tremor Control’s album, Music From the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle, had when we started ‘Mixed Blessings’. I love the way that that record blends really catchy pop songs with these really esoteric ambient, experimental tracks and yet it all still sounds like one cohesive piece of work.
Greetings To Eblis
The title of this song came was inspired by a book called Vathek, by William Beckford, which is an opulent, ‘Arabian Nights’ type of story about a self indulgent Caliph. My friends Richard and Judy hooked me up as per, give it a read y’oh.
This is another of the ‘oldies’ on the record, we’d been playing it for ages, and we’d tried to record and release it a few times before, but were never happy with the recordings we did. There is so much going on in the song that it has always been difficult for us to recapture the energy it has live, but when we took it to Dave (the producer of ‘Mixed Blessings’), he really loved it, and worked really hard on making it work for us, and we fell back in love with it again
Brush your teeth,
and brush them right;
Brush them clean,
till they are white.
Say no more.
Beaty Heart’s ‘Mixed Blessings’ is out now on Nusic Sounds / Caroline.