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the beige | 01

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CANADA - Ontario

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Pop: Quirky Pop: Folky Pop Moods: Type: Experimental
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01

by the beige

an atmospheric pop quintet: understated, wry, jazzy with off-kilter pop leanings. "A record that fuses popular and experimental forms into a coherent whole is a rare thing, and this is a record of rare beauty." -- Americana UK
Genre: Pop: Quirky
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. So Near
6:21 $0.99
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2. Mirror
5:07 $0.99
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3. Bad Man Outside
1:35 $0.99
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4. Lord I Wish I Was
7:42 $0.99
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5. One For Me
4:58 $0.99
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6. Vanishing Twin
2:59 $0.99
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7. Hammer in a Bell
5:05 $0.99
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8. Nobody Nowhere
9:07 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
the beige's music is atmospheric, understated, wry and jazzy with off-kilter pop leanings, but sometimes not. the quintet's live shows feature broad strokes of improvisation. minimalist, maximalist. now with spikier edges. the beige complement most interiors.

Recent praise for the debut cd "01":

"The Beige's wonderfully designed CD is home to a collection of textured, rootsy folk-pop music heavy on the ambient atmosphere...a brilliant level of depth to the recording...Ladies and gents, meet your new favourite atmospheric roots-pop band." -- Indieville.com

"The Beige is a new musical force in Vancouver" -- Marke Andrews, Vancouver Sun.

"Let’s not try too hard to categorize the Beige. We’ll just say that Maddocks writes damn good songs that allow the band to take all sorts of twists and turns through interesting corners of the sonic spectrum." --Eden Munro, Vue Weekly

"The result is a disc of literate roots-pop for urban dwellers, with a we-get-there-when-we-do attitude that coalesces into dusty, lovely ballads." -- Shawn Conner, Vancouver Courier.

"Moody atmosphere in a tight ensemble sound" -- Tom Harrison, Vancouver Province.

"A gorgeously spacious thing.... as melodic and lyrically striking as Wilco at its most incisive--and more overtly catchy." -- Ken Eisner, The Georgia Straight.

instead of trying to recreate a live performance for their debut cd, 01, the beige applied an improv approach to the recording/mixing process itself. they experimented with subtle loops and the odd field recording. it's an understated production. while 01 captures the atmospheric quality of the beige, all in all it's a quiet, layered album with few special effects. they did almost all their own stunts, but the beige's 01 does feature guest appearances by some of vancouver's finest musicians.

A recent article about the beige in The Georgia Straight:

Thursday, August 3

The Beige is anything but bland

By Ken Eisner

When the lights went down at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre on July 22, listeners packed into the Star Theatre were treated to an intensely introspective set from the Beige. Their music might be called shoegazing, although the Vancouver band’s sound is too rootsy for that label. Anyway, circumstances made listeners look up, not down.

“It was almost pitch black,” recalled Beige guitarist Jon Wood the next afternoon, “but that just made the audience stare at the ceiling more intently. We could barely see our instruments, but it was probably the best show we’ve ever done.”

While fans were fixed on projections of Andromeda and the Crab Nebula, the five-piece outfit explored the celestial limits of its debut CD, called 01 despite a notably analogue sound. Further paradoxes appeared in the setting, principally because of offering a night of amateur astronomy to people following musicians who have no interest in being stars. Three of the five members—including founder, guitarist, and lead singer-songwriter Rick Maddocks—are balding, bookish-looking fellows.

“We don’t even know how to get into the whole marketing thing,” Maddocks told the Georgia Straight a few days earlier, while sipping iced coffee outside a Fairview Slopes café. He was joined there by Wood, who mostly plays lap-steel and tenor guitars, and relative newcomer Mark Haney, whose acoustic double bass helps ground songs that could otherwise float heavenward.

Certainly, some of the spacier parts of the record, like long instrumental passages in the opening “So Near” and closing “Nobody Nowhere”, can get quite ethereal. Bits of banjo, cello, and trumpet waft through the tunes, which also feature Geoff Gilliard’s restrained drumming and Andrew Arida’s luxuriously retro-sounding keyboards. The self-produced session, mixed and mastered by Wood, is a gorgeously spacious thing.

Other numbers, like the anthemic “Mirror”, folky “Hammer in a Bell”, and romantically swooning “One for Me” are as melodic and lyrically striking as Wilco at its most incisive—and more overtly catchy.

The lyric part certainly connects with the Welsh-born Maddocks’s other artistic hat, as a published author. His novel, Sputnik Diner, was put out by Knopf Canada five years ago, to glowing reviews nationwide. The Globe and Mail’s comment that his writing carries “strong echoes of dirty-realist American writers like Tobias Wolff and Frederick Barthelme” could be applied to the music as well. And you’d have to add Hank Williams, Tim Buckley, and Bruce Springsteen to that list of modern Americana.

“Actually, it all started with ads in the back of the Georgia Straight,” Wood said after the show. “Rick, Andrew, and I all met through classified ads and played together through the years. And we met Geoff pretty soon after.”

The band name, which supports the idea that these anti-poseurs would just as soon stay in the background, came fairly late in the game. According to the jeans-clad Wood, who is naturally inclined toward the dry put-on, the handle came about because everyone else was wearing Dockers at their first few rehearsals.

“It started as a kind of joke,” Wood continued. “But it’s taken on a life of its own. You say it often enough, and it starts sounding more, I don’t know, colourful.”

“Well, it has that basic neutrality,” Maddocks said in his own interview, “but it reflects the music, in a way. It’s not a sound that knocks you over the head when you walk into the room. It’s more like overhearing a quiet conversation; if you want to get sucked in, you can.”

The band’s stargazing began with monthly gigs at the Montmartre Café on Main Street.

“It’s really been a long, slow process of developing this highly instrumental sound,” Wood explained. “And that began a while before Mark joined the band. At first, we weren’t really concerned with what anybody thought of it. We thought ‘If nobody listens, then whatever. This is interesting to us.’ But people seemed to like it, so we were taken by surprise. They got less chatty as things went along.”

“We all sit down, except for Mark, in a semicircle,” Maddocks explained. “And this has changed the writing process as well. We started out with fairly well structured songs. Now it tends to be more fragmentary, but there’s just way more space to work with.”

And space, to paraphrase the late Sun Ra, seems to be the place where they live.

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Reviews


to write a review

juju

beige crush
01 is a subtle masterpiece, a ticket to places you've always wanted to go to. adventurous yet authentic, the beige have carved a category of their own. beige music? beigism? whatever it is, we need more of it. the songs unravel effortlessly down to the grande finale, the outworldly 'nobody nowhere', the closest thing to this century's theme song.
never underestimate the power of the neutral. the beige will make you believe.
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Americana UK

this is a record of rare beauty
Colour me impressed:


The closest thing I can liken this to is the beautifully austere musicscapes of the Boxhead Ensemble. Everything is contained within gentle vessels of sound, the music splashing against the sides or shimmering, rippling, curling in on itself. Pulsing, dividing, percussion, electronics, guitars, banjo all part of the same contained sea of noise. The effect is often a quiet venture into the avant garde like some free jazz / glitch hybrid spliced onto more traditional song-based forms, recognizable tunes and melodies pass like vessels running without lights.

The alt-country roots are most noticeable on 'Mirror' a song that embraces the form for half its length before the instruments rebel against their generic straightjackets, cymbals patter and splash, trumpets call, guitars forget about chords, vocals reappear to assert form and pedal steel plays shepherd to get everything to the chorus. The tension between the vocal melodies and the urge to experiment makes this a rewarding listen, the basic songs are good enough, and the cul de sacs that are explored make them more interesting. Keyboards have their own party on 'Lord I Wish I Was' until banjo gatecrashes, they all waltz together on 'One for Me'. The peak is reached on 'Nobody Nowhere' where swathes of cello contrast with elliptical guitar figures, bells and cymbals, as the cello deepens its song the other elements continue to recycle creating a kind of bleak but beautiful glimpse of winter.

A record that fuses popular and experimental forms into a coherent whole is a rare thing, and this is a record of rare beauty.



Date review added: Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Reviewer: David Cowling
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Paul Bergen

genre skipping
If I had to use a band to describe the sound of The Beige, I would say that that they were a slightly sweeter version of The National. But as these other reviews point out these guys show influences from all over. I wouldn't call them country but without country this music would not exist. And then there is that beautiful jazzy string bass behind it all. Let's just say that The Beige and this cd are utterly unique, but without having to sacrifice heart-aching melodic runs.
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Vancouver Sun

The Beige really makes you pay attention
Thursday, July 20

The Beige really makes you pay attention

The Beige is a new musical force in Vancouver, and although the band has five members who each make their imprint on the group sound, the central force is Rick Maddocks. The guitarist wrote all eight tunes on the band’s self-released debut CD, 01, sings lead on the non-instrumental tracks, and creates lyrics that make you really pay attention.

For example, his song Lord I Wish I Was appears at first to be a song about the vulnerability, where Maddocks wishes he could be stronger, more sensitive, a better person. But in the song’s second half, those desires are turned completely around, with Maddocks wanting to be weaker, meaner, less a good person. The countrified Hammer in a Bell is also something of a lament, Maddocks singing about the growing out of things once important in life. Nobody Nowhere reflects on a world changing, not always for the better.

The band (Maddocks on guitar and vocals, Andrew Arida on keyboards and accordion, Jon Wood on guitar and lap steel, Mark Haney on bass, Geoff Gilliard on drums) mixes an organic sound with electronics, using loops effectively. 01 also enjoys several guest players, the most prominent being Christy Staudhammer, whose cello underscores the lyricism of certain songs.

The Beige play a CD-release concert Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at HR MacMillan Space Centre’s Star Theatre.

- Marke Andrews
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Vancouver Courier

a disc of literate roots-pop for urban dwellers
The Beige arrive

Among the artists listed as influences on the Beige's Myspace website is William Basinski. A sound artist, Basinski is a minimalist composer of ambient music, such as The Disintegration Loops I-IV. This project, released in 2003, was as much about the process of transferring a series of 20-year-old tape loops to a digital file format, and the loss of portions of the music during the transference, as it was about the music itself.

All of which is pretty highfalutin stuff, especially if all you want is a good tune and some pretzels to help the beer go down. Happily, the Beige's eight-song debut CD strikes just the right balance between atmospheric improvisation and linear song structure. Though the tunes often take the scenic route, they inevitably arrive at their destination. "Hammer in a Bell" highlights frontman Rick Maddocks' falsetto turn and Andrew Arida's accordion on what could pass for a Wilco track. "One for Me" is a fairly straightforward love ballad, albeit one hiding behind understated piano, intermittently strummed chords and distant-thunder drums. "Nobody Nowhere" is both determined and disoriented, with Maddocks intoning the words against a droning backdrop. The strategically laidback verses of "Mirror" lead to a forceful, yearning chorus.

Maddocks, who plays guitar and wrote the songs, is also the author of a novel, Sputnik Diner. He's recorded this album with some of Vancouver's most accomplished players, and the result is a disc of literate roots-pop for urban dwellers, with a we-get-there-when-we-do attitude that coalesces into dusty, lovely ballads.

-Shawn Conner
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