Beatnik Neon is returning to the music scene on November 16th with Rides, their first single since the release of their 2016-17 EP series, Atramentous. Rides is the debut release for a new incarnation of the band in which the creative talents of founding member Nolan Farmer are joined by those of newcomer Yann Marc and guest vocalist Chris James. If you don’t believe in reincarnation, the quality and seamlessness of this new collaboration might just make a believer out of you.
Beneath the Surface…
While the melody and harmony don’t stray too far from the familiar, Rides is dense with effective production decisions that successfully establish a dark and alluring undertone. Take the opening piano arpeggio as an early example. Slightly detuned and a little too twangy, this part sounds like it could have been recorded on that beat up old upright that’s been sitting in the corner of your grandma’s living room since the Great Depression. The mildly dissonant timbre lends the part a degree of engaging moodiness and exemplifies the way in which Beatnik Neon creates depth through carefully chosen production details. Follow that with a spooky noise sweep, a timid but tastefully incorporated cello, and enough drum reverb to make Phil Collins blush, and what you get is a disquieting and spacious sonic texture which pulls you in deeper and deeper until suddenly you realize you’re sprawled out on the floor feeling a little too contemplative.
Premiere of “Rides” from Beatnik Neon
Let’s take a Floor Nap!
And to that point, I can’t help but feel remiss in talking about any music which makes me feel like collapsing onto my floor without mentioning Radiohead. Chris James, whose previous credits include lead singer for the UK-based band Stateless, gives a vocal performance that recalls Thom Yorke so effectively that I might’ve wondered if it were him signing were it not for the fact that I can actually decipher the lyrics. James’s vocals blend so perfectly with the track’s overall production style that you would think this incarnation of Beatnik Neon had been together since the very beginning.
A taste of what’s to come…
While Rides represents a shift in scale for the group whose previous works have boasted programmatic forms stretching across multiple EP’s, it’s also a herald of bigger things to come. Having survived through several geographic and personnel changes over the years, Beatnik Neon’s latest release attests to Nolan Farmer’s enduring creativity and perseverance. Farmer’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances through the expansion of his collaborative pool engenders great confidence that the future of Beatnik Neon, whose subsequent releases should be awaited by Indie fans with eager anticipation, will be long and fruitful.