. issue XXII : iii .

by barathron

. artist : beyond-o-matic .
. album : the relations at the borders between .
. year : 2013 .
. label : trail .
. grade : a .


For their first crop of new recordings since ’02, what better subject matter for Beyond-O-Matic to take on than “the different phases of life and death and the human connections that make it all worthwhile. And of course, the altered states of consciousness that we seek to find the meaning of it all ….” Pulled together from improv sessions out of San Francisco last May, Relations At The Borders Between is built with enough inner and outer space to accommodate that heady endeavor. With five cuts cresting over the 10-minute mark, Beyond-O-Matic make full use of the latitude, not so much carving out new space as they are exploring. Armed with a progressive melodicism, shape-shifting elastic playing and Peter Fuhry’s distinctive vocals, Relations At The Borders Between makes it even more clear that it’s been too long since we’ve heard from our voyagers, but given the time that’s passed since they last hit the launchpad, they never miss a beat assuming the pilot’s chair. (There was the much welcomed Time To Get Up in ’10, but those were recordings from ’02 … so it’s reassuring to hear that Beyond-O-Matic can fire up the Starbong with one match as easily as ever.)

The loose “In the C” and “Tick Tock Rock” seem like beacons pinging, doing sonic recon, when Beyond-O-Matic take the first full-flight on “Wish.” A bellwether for the remainder of the album, “Wish” is a wash of dreamy sonics that has as many waves as it does mist. Like most bands that aim a little higher in the air, there are Floyd overtones, but “Wish” quickly embraces more overt prog flavors that run a pretty wide gamut, giving their patient and syrupy momentum a diversity that others might sacrifice just for a hollow vibe. For as unhurried as Beyond-O-Matic are, they pack in a good dose of drama–due in no small part to Fuhry’s vocals–that flirts with the theatrical, pulling back at just the right moment to avoid histrionics (which, when dealing with progishness, can quickly get hysterical). Hazy and ethereal in the spaces between, Relations still pulses with a high-flying earthiness that gives you something to hang on to, and relate to. Check the mildly melancholic “Turn, Switch, Trust;” it’s blissfully spacey, but well within reach like the whole album.

With the good-sized interim between their outings, it’s tempting to call Relations At The Borders Between a return to form or even a formal return for Beyond-O-Matic. Once the deliberate ebb and flow wrap you in the slipstream, it’s more a case of musical molasses … and molasses takes time and refining. Then it’s ready to be used for some baking. Peter Fuhry gives some insight into the process behind Relations In The Borders Between over at Rust Magazine.

by Mr. Atavist