Beats Antique | "Shadowbox" | Review

Every now and again, you come across music that manages to elicit emotive responses by exploring sounds, rhythms, and influences that you as the listener may not be exposed to daily.  On October 5, 2016 Beats Antique celebrated their 10th year with their 10th studio release, Shadowbox, and took the opportunity to span the globe for instruments, vocals, and beats that can only be found through global exploration.  While the album was officially produced in their Oakland studio, some tracks on the album were recorded in locations across globe.  Stops included New Orleans, London, Moscow, and Tel Aviv, and the global influences are on full display in the aptly titled Shadowbox.  Beats Antique is an ethnotronica band from the Bay Area, and consists of David Satori who responsible for the Beats and Bass, “Sidecar” Tommy Cappel manning all things string, and Zoe Jakes covering the choreography and composition elements for the band.  Unlike a lot of producers who will source samples for their creations from other artists or past works, all the samples that were used on this album were organically created for this album. 

The album opens with “Three Sisters” and indicates to the listener that the 10th album will be unlike any album to date.  Recorded in Moscow with the help of Russian Vocalist and Ancient Instrumentalist Tatyana Kalmykova, the song is the first of many instances where East meets West to join forces and offer the ingredients to a musical gumbo.  “Killer Bee” brings a more traditional Beats Antique sound with a twist, adding West Coast Hip-Hop to their Vaudevillian-Jazz samples with the help of their frequent collaborator MC Lafa Taylor.  “Let it Go” was a single that was released in advance of the album and includes a high-energy collaboration with New Orleans stalwarts Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a Beats Antique meets Frenchmen St. on Mardi Gras sound.  This approach would be revisited a later in the album, on “The Block”, supported by Too Many Zooz on horns, and “Sideswipe”.  “Vesper Star” and “Vendetta” are more representative of the ethnotronic Beats Antique sound, with the former providing a Gypsy-Trance tune supported by long-time collaborator and Sarod virtuoso Alam Khan, and the latter being more of a Belly-Dubstep track tracing back to Beats Antique’s roots as a Belly-Dance band.  “Le Refuge” is easily the most powerful track on the album.  Recorded in Tel Aviv with the help of legendary Israeli Bassist and Producer Yossi Fine, this Gypsy-Trance track features ambient vocals from females in their native tongues: Mirna Sassine in Arabic and Madeline Tasquin in French.  The track offers a glimpse into the beauty that can be actualized when foreign cultures assimilate as opposed to divide, and the location of the recording and languages incorporated cannot be understated.  The album fittingly closes with a collaboration with internationally acclaimed producer Gaudi and offers an entertaining mash-up of Beats Antique’s style with Gaudi’s mode.   

Overall the album hits on many of the tracks and manages to stay true to the Beats Antique sound while exploring and engaging new instruments, beats, and concepts.  Be sure to catch Beats Antique as they close out 2016 with a couple of shows in the Bay Area this weekend and a New Yea’s run in the Northwest, before taking off for Jam Cruise in January.

Fri, Dec 2  

The Catalyst

Santa Cruz, CA

Sat, Dec 3

Fox Theater

Oakland, CA

Wed, Dec 28

MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa

Stateline, NV

Fri, Dec 30

Vote for Dancing 2016 w/ The Polish Ambassador

Roseland Theater

Portland, OR

Sat, Dec 31

The Showbox

Seattle, WA

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