Be Forest are an unashamedly organic band. Everything from the name of their LPs to the primitive, elemental intimacy of their soundscapes, all the way through to the name of the band itself, speak volumes of a fundamental blueprint that is intrinsically linked to the natural sounds and ambience they conceive. Their 2011 debut, Cold, typified this with a precession of crisp, glacial atmospheres far away from the searing summers of Le Marche, and the resulting piercing energies attracted acclaim from much further afield than the Italian Adriatic. The trio return in 2014 with Earthbeat, this time armed with a fourth member in Lorenzo Badioli to take care of the electronic side of things, allowing the band to build serenely on the chilled foundations of their debut to produce a record that places a listener in an even clearer natural setting than its predecessor.
The intimacy and texture of Earthbeat is undoubtedly its biggest strength, with intricate blends of synthsand subtle advances of percussion making for an impressively cohesive record. After an instrumental intro raises a curtain to reveal a tribal, indigenous undercurrent, Captured Heart entices a listener into a candid checkpoint where a bassline rumbles under a skillfully architected layering of instruments. It’s a track that is typical of Earthbeat on the whole. Guitars are tentative and shielded by reverb, and intertwine with each other meticulously to maximize the clarity of its complexion. Synths are used sparingly and efficiently to avoid tarnishing any lucidity, whilst a dreamy female vocal garnishes the arrangement with delicacy and allure.
To divide a record like this into tracks is almost doing it a disservice, and is, in the case of this record, merely for convenience purposes. There’s no doubt that this is an LP that saunters from one vivid environment to another with absolute cohesion, with every given track sheltered under a richly vegetated sonic canopy. If Cold, with its chilly atmospheres and penetrating sounds, was winter, Earthbeat would be spring; with seeds evolving from the brisk and blossoming into a milder motif where sunlight starts to brighten and warm the landscape.
There are a couple of haunts within the saunter that are worthy of particular note. Although the record is one single escape in itself, the points visited during Captured Heart, mentioned above, Airwaves, and Hideaway are perhaps the points where the proficiency of Be Forest’s blueprint is exposed most commendably. Here are the tracks where the arrangements are their most captivating, where the atmosphere is at its most vivid, and where the tangling of sounds is at its highest definition. Airwaves is governed by bassline that dictates a swarm of understated synths and electronica to abide to its superiority, with that whimsical female vocal adding rationale to the whole arrangement. Hideaway closes the record, and from the outset has a sense of finality that suggests the amble is approaching its end. Reverb-drenched, raveled guitars are at the forefront here, and the tranquility is testament to the intricacy of the bespoke layering of a variety of fine-spun sounds.
If you were being overly critical, the issue with this record would be that it is hazardously cohesive, but then again, this is one of its biggest strengths. The ability of Be Forest to concoct such an organic sound rich in sensationally intricate textures, all the while remaining beautifully understated, is extremely impressive and supremely executed, but does the records lack of outright highlights suggest it’s merely going through the motions? One thing is for sure, though; Earthbeat is an imposing exhibition of a thoroughly authentic band, and a natural growth from the band’s debut effort.
FIRST PUBLISHED ON NO RIPCORD***