The Beta Band: The Three EPs (EMI)

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The Beta Band: Dry the Rain
The Beta Band: The Three EPs (EMI)

This alarmingly good album released in late '98 -- made up from three impossible-to-find EPs by the Glaswegian quartet -- blurs the boundaries so much between pop and dub, art rock and folk that it goes well beyond convenient pigeonholing.

Just call it extraordinary. And an immediate, if late, contender in the "albums of the year" stakes, but one which hasn't had enough time to stand the longevity test.

That said, last weekend this generously timed 80-minute disc was on permanent repeat and visitors all said the same: "Wow, what's this?" I want commission on the 10 I sold on Sunday alone. (See the clip below!)

The opener, Dry the Rain, slips out over a delightfully lazy vocal and quasi-folk slide. I Know and B + A have the kind of leisurely groove that A Tribe Called Quest used to possess, and Dog's Got A Bone sounds like a harmonium ballad from some Appalachian shack.

Later there are loop tapes and surface noise, a sense that someone in the band grew up on their parents' pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd, bird calls-meets-Britpop, Ivor Cutler-meets-Beck ...

Slippery and seductive, attention-grabbing and ambient, pop and lo-fi prog.

Unfathomably sublime.

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