We take a look at the debut album Rapture from Stage of History. An innovative and enticing fusion of rock, metal, electronica and folk that comes together in a spacious yet introspective set.
Andrew Beeken's previous musical projects have ranged from rock bands to acoustic folk-tinged solo work but with his new project Stage of History he takes in a wide range of influences to produce some stunning, fascinating instrumentals.
Opening the 10-track album Rapture with Aurora it goes from a soothing piano-riff which could have been the melancholic refrain of a musical to lull you into a sense of security before suddenly transforming in a skull-crunching guitar riff that grabs your attention.
Well produced one track flows into the next and we go from the juxtaposition of sound set out in the first straight into the sinister-strings of the second (lead single Coming Down). Beginning with a flavour of electronica in the style of Faithless or Pendulum, this dark yet upbeat track twists and turns it's way bringing in distorted guitar and tribal beats.
The Vast Machines is sparser, beginning with the ting-ting of old skool gaming before bringing in a machine beat and some acid house squelch and swirl. It begins to take on, as the title suggests, an industrial feel but also evocative of the expanse of landscape surrounding Beeken in his native Lincolnshire.
It's of a theme but somewhere different yet again on Dreaming of Analise. The liquid bubbling rock guitar embraces you as dance beats take a shot. There is more than a hint of Portishead and funky trip-hop seeping through the gaps between notes here - all that is missing is a spacy dreamlike vocal and we'd definitely be swimming in that vibe.
But then - surprise - in comes My Enemy's Friend's Enemy with a perfect slice of '70s rock, a perfect summer feel from the acoustic chords, bouncing beat and swaying of the synth.
And if that's a happy-go-lucky song, a smile and a wave as it passes you on the street in it's jaunty hat then Decree/Judgement is it's shadow. As bouncy with bass throws and crowd cheer samples, but dark and foreboding; the insistent piano line a paranoid staccato of shivers down the spine.
Sparse retro-stylings make a return on Thinking of Flight. The 303-a-like squidge nudges the track along, electronic bleeps and tics brings back that sense of uncomfortable space.
The feeling carries through into An Approaching Storm, as the title suggests a real building of senses and expectations which crescendos in dirty thrashing metal guitars with the steady fall of a piano keeping time.
Final track Into the Fray not only has a Knightrider-esque swotch-swotch but brings in elements of country, folk and americana. An appealing tinkle of roughshod hope and space cowboy glory billowing outward in a futuristic sound of dark and light.
The album closes with a reprise of the opening track. The piano refrain there again, comforting melancholy that fades to silence before the gentle static and scratch of a needle playing to the end of the groove brings it to an end.
A wonderful, inventive set of tracks that blend influences from folk, electronic, trip-hop, metal and rock to create a varied soundscape that flicks between cinematic panoramas to a fantastically filthy industrial dirge.
As a first offering in the guise of Stage of History, Andrew Beeken shows great promise for creating experimental instrumentals showcasing a new cross-over between more traditional rock elements and electronica and House beats.
You can stream Rapture for free or download for ÃÂ£1.50 from the Stage of History Bandcamp page.
All words by Sarah Lay. You can read more from Sarah on LTW here.