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Beams

The Presets

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Album Review

The Presets' first full-length record differs slightly from their more happy-go-lucky Aussie dance compatriots, mostly for aesthetic reasons. The detached nature of Beams is more about subtle darkness and underlying sinister intentions, as evidenced on the slow-building opener, "Steamworks" — which begins with the bassline from "Billie Jean" and moves into much more explosive sonic territory (and a rave horn for good measure). Beams represents a uneasy yet unforgettable combination of '80s gaudy pop flair and dark, propulsive rave beats, all with an unsubtle sense of humor. Borrowing nothing from their timid Blow Up EP (most of the songs from that release have been since adapted in live shows to sound more similar to Beams), the Presets have an impulsive, almost primitive charm to their dance music. With heavy bass throughout, keyboardist/vocalist Julian Hamilton experiments with heavy distortion and vocal alterations. On the wild electro-pop treat "Down Down Down," the group keeps to the song's namesake and effortlessly weaves in and out of looped tambourine percussion and dirty synth beats. The middle section is surprisingly experimental given the concise pop of "Are You the One?," "Down Down Down," and the minimalist, winsome cool of "The Girl and the Sea" (it's the only time Hamilton shows some true restraint in his singing, and it gives the song a mysterious edge throughout). "Worms" plods along to a wince-inducing squelching keyboard loop and doesn't feel like anything more than an unrealized experiment. "Kitty in the Middle" contains more hyper-sexual lyrics and whip sounds, and is saved by its simple and funky bassline. The best moment on the latter half is the rave-inspired sped-up/slow-down shifting on "I Go Hard, I Go Home," benefiting from the same wobbly vocal effect used on Tommy James & the Shondelles' "Crimson and Clover." Either heralded for its effectiveness or denigrated for its stupidity, the double-entendre heavy sexual lyrics sung by Hamilton would be a distraction if not for his ability to blend his call-and-answer shouting with the music so surreptitiously. Despite the darker tone, Beams is still a dance album at heart — and a carnal one at that — thereby making his mechanical yelping the ideal background noise.

Customer Reviews

Push Your Preset Buttons !!!

If you like The Rapture, Cut Copy, Daft Punk or even Goldfrapp before they were famous then this little gem is for you, it's hard to put these guys into a genre, electronic it is, but main stream...... certainly not ! If you like your music new and different then this is for you. Enjoy.

Good but not great

The brilliant Are You The One? is the only standout track here. In fact it's head and shoulders above the rest as the Presets suffer from the usual downfall of most electro acts - what may sound great live or being pumped out of a nightclub's expensive soundsystem tends to fall flat when stretched out over an entire album. The music's designed to be danced to, not listened to! 11 tracks of beeps, bleeps and bog standard basslines tends to grate after a while, although the last 3 tracks are more interesting than most of what came before.

A fantastic debut for electro fans everywhere

This is a sexy record by a sexy band. One of the best live acts I have seen in a long time. It begins with the sultry and bare 'Steamworks' and continues with the toetapping monster that is 'Are you the one?' which has been rightly adopted as dancefloor filling record extraordinare in more discerning clubs recently. The middle few songs are slower in tempo but provide an interesting aside from the full on beats of the standout dance tracks. 'I go hard, I go home' is an education in how to make interesting, inviting electronic music and should be prescribed to anyone who has been suffering from the effects of boring europop for a while. Overall there is enough variety and originality here to keep more established fans of electro happy but the album is also accessible to newcomers too. I just hope that there aren't too many newcomers because I like having The Presets and 'Beams' as my own dirty little secret!

Biography

Formed: 2003 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australi

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '00s

The Presets are a pair of avant-garde Aussies who, while forging a musical path that wouldn't be unfamiliar to acts like Daft Punk, Nine Inch Nails, and the Faint, don't mind dragging disco along for the ride. Julian Hamilton (production, keyboards, vocals) and Kimberley Moyes (production, drums, programming) met in the early '90s as students at Sydney's Conservatorium of Music. Both were there to study classical music, but as they delved into the great composers, neither could forget an extracurricular...
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Beams, The Presets
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