The concept of outsider art is not one that has passed into the realm of music. Yeah, you get painters who use elephant shit to create ‘art’, you get bearded men in dresses throwing pots who win the Turner prize, but there’s a distinct lack of risk-taking in the music industry.
Maybe it’s a good thing. Certainly good to keep those people with some of the slightly more, ahem, wacky ideas out of the way. But then again, genuine experimentation is something to be appreciated, to be held up and shoved in the faces of every single line-towing, cliche-following, stereotype-sticking band.
So, outsider art. Beat Pyramid. Draw the line between the two. OK, so it isn’t hard to fill in your MySpace influences with oddities (William The Conqueror? Sebastian Reich?), but Beat Pyramid is genuinely an outsider’s record. A record made by those who just don’t fit into the mainstream. A record made by those who share a sense of not wanting to stick to the script in a fashion that we haven’t seen since Dizzee Rascal bounced out of da corner.
Sections of it are stunning. The mutant two-step of C 16th, a melange of fugitive beats fleeing from an ever approaching battalion of sirening guitars. Or last single Elvis, a paranoid, nihilistic masterpiece, Jack Barnett’s Orwellian drill sergeant barking propaganda over a rumbling basslines and tommy-gun drums.
It’s baffling, surprising and not altogether happy. This is music for the no-ID generation; LCD Soundsystem, if the Stasi were playing at their house.
Because it’s so odd, some of it doesn’t work. Doppelganger meanders, as if they can’t quite figure out what bit of electronic atmosphere they want to get out of it, while 4 Pound is a bit like being assaulted by a particularly vicious East London barrow-boy (“4 of yer pounds! 4 of yer pounds! 4-4-4 of yer pounds!”).
It’s Chas’n'Dave gone mental. But so much of what Beat Pyramid attempts comes off and in such an interesting way, that it’s hard to criticise. MKK3 pieces together lyrics in much the same way that Kevin Spacey in 7even pieced together notebooks, cutting sections of lyrics together to create a series of disquieting mental images. Michael Barrymore masturbating? He is here tonight. Even the Turner prize haven’t got that far. Yet.
Beat Pyramid crosses genres, sticks pins in everything it sees and manages to reference hip-hop, punk, new-wave, dubstep and everything in between. For that alone, These New Puritans should be applauded. The fact that they’ve done all that in a manner so frigging exciting is nothing short of remarkable.