Plugged In. Beak>, >>.

As with any Beak> release, certain aspects are so intrinsic that were they not present and correct you'd feel compelled to take issue with Geoff Barrow via the medium of an @reply. One thing leading to another, unorthodox punctuation mark usage is one such element as is of course the involvement of Barrow himself: his twiddling of analog knobs and fascination with rejuvenated machinery is the critical peak of Beak>; the band's raison d'être as it were and it's therefore all too easy for any old hack to fob the thing off as a vainglorious side-project. In reality, it's anything but and the downright awkwardly entitled >> goes a fair way to substantiating such communiqué.

First and foremost, it ought to be reiterated that Beak> is not so much Barrow+ as it is Geoff Barrow & Billy Fuller & Matt Williams (to arrange democratically, or at least alphabetically according to patronymic) and the impact of the latter two oughtn't go glossed over. Effectively melded together into one robust entity, they've become quite the pairing whilst globetrotting in the svelte shadow cast by the sylphlike enigma that is Anika, with Williams also astounding under his personal nom de plume of FairHorns. It goes without saying that Barrow too has been working Messianic and/ or machinistic wonders whilst off paddling in other creative pools in the interim period splayed out between now and then, then being the release of the eponymous début although it's when the trio collide to emit their profusely combustive volatility that something stratospherically wondrous occurs.

That unwieldy, unpronounceable typography here assumes an unexpected relevance: for if not regarded as open-ended guillemet, mathematically it may be translated as a double greater-than and certainly >> represents a recording that is considerably greater than the sum of its already illustrious parts. If it's perhaps somewhat gimmicky – as with those literally faceless press shots of late – then peck beyond exterior and the persistent mandible catches an understatedly excellent LP that wriggles invigoratingly from one mode to another, reconfiguring presets and preconceptions as it squirms. The almost geometric, if firmly gargantuan bass striae of Wulfstan II for instance (a track seemingly capable of crumbling The Croft) may only correlate to the eerie lo-fi haunt of Eggdog in a parallel universe within which primetime is masochistically dictated by Danny Cannon's Judge Dredd, which is in turn played over and over again ad infinitum at the insistent urges of the lovably obdurate Barrow himself.

The doomsday plod of Ladies' Mile appositely then recalls Barrow's recent DROKK detour as though he'd configured a patch to a particularly devastating, internal organ-churning undulation and hadn't wanted to unplug without a further tinker, whilst opener The Gaol has wires crossed in all the right ways as flurries of synthetic frenzy bluster through metronomic drum clatter. If it'd apparently sound as though the result may come out cluttered, >> remains a remarkably lucid listen throughout with the dual-layered bass of Yatton just about the closest Beak> have ever come to accessibility. It's not that the Bristol-based trio are striving for the knowingly subversive à la Tom Jenkinson; a solitary stream of Battery Point ought to disprove such notion. It's purely that when informed by the likes of Neu! and Can; when instructed (I imagine at least a little) by the mage-like Adrian Utley then skittering rhythms, the odd swirl of contorted psychedelia and schizophrenic constructions come as standard.

Kidney initially comes across as a lost '60s single committed to churning, static-addled tape in the midst of a total headfuck of an amphetamine excursion that soon erupts in paranoid wails and comes out itching in rash-flecked rabidity, only to then lose itself once again to silence and restored sanity; Elevator as an hypnotic surge of boggy squelches and fogged lyrics too low in the final mix to make out; Liar as a disorientating blur of siren-like whirrs equal parts Casualty and that Cologne lot aforementioned. Recorded in an afternoon, there's enough initially clandestine intricacy to >> to ensure it be plugged into your every impulse for months, for it stands monumental as Mega-City One; immovably resolute as an impeccable and immaculately produced effort.