Video Premiere: Beast – “Chase Scene”

Posted by on October 6, 2017

Koen Holtkamp is best known as one-half of kosmische drone tinkerers Mountains, alongside Brendon Anderegg. The duo, who also co-ran Chicago auteur imprint Apestaartje together, presiding over a sprawling mix of drone and ambient music for synthesizers, but with an oddly effective touch of folk in its air. Although Anderegg had been releasing solo material as early as 2001, Holtkamp has seemingly been making up for lost time since 2008. In the 9 years that have passed, Holtkamp found ways to juggle Mountains’ activity and began venturing down other sonic avenues — as with not only a run of solo LPs but also a string of collaborative LPs with celebrated psych guitarist Chris Forsyth. Now, Holtkamp reveals a promising new project and moniker: Beast.

As explained by the project’s background, Beast “developed out of Holtkamp’s creation last year of an audio-visual performance that centers on the physical properties of light via 3D laser projections.” Through these experiments, Holtkamp engineered a way to link modular synths and virtual instruments with live, abstract imagery, all improvised and conducted through mutually responsive elements. While the laser projections — now included as the cover art for the album’s two volumes — are eerily and elegantly beautiful. The music is wholly Holtkamp, offering a a set of panoramic sounds that are dense but agile, ornate but meditative, epic but minimal. Entirely wordless but endlessly expressive, Holtkamp’s music communicates through syncopated, celestial synthesizers.

“Chase Scene,” taken from the more polished and “in studio” set of Volume Two, perfectly highlights Holtkamp’s new tonal territory. Busy but serene phases of virtual pianos, horn-like tones, and hushed but assertive notes cascade in a single lush cacophony. After the song’s opening movement, the synthetic symphony is punctuated by pulsing low-ends and clipped textures that spiral through the air. Feeling both intricately composed and arbitrarily automated, “Chase Scene” lends itself to endless replays, revealing unseen moments of pure magic. The video for “Chase Scene,” also directed by Holtkamp, focuses on a single scene of everyday life: rain drops overflowing a gutter in a natural choreograph of rhythm and repetition. It’s a simple but fitting accompaniment to the song’s mania.

Copies of Beast’s Volume One and Volume Two are up now at Boomkat and Forced Exposure (US), with the digital edition available at Holtkamp’s Bandcamp.