July 2001 • Rockbites Alternative Daily

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The Beans’ Crane Wars, plus 48 hour show
31 July 2001
Vancouver experimental/ downtempo/ mostly instrumental quintet The Beans (don’t confuse them with hip-hop producer/MC Beans, from Anti-Pop Consortium, who has released solo work on 75-Ark) released their second full length, Crane Wars, on California indie Zum Records on 29 June for North America. It follows their 2000 EP Tired Snow, also on Zum, and their 1998 debut LP Portage from Canadian indie Zulu Records. They also have a track on the recent No Watches, No Maps compilation from Brighton, England’s Fat Cat Records (home for Sigur Rós).
    On Crane Wars, which seems perhaps and tenuously to be a concept album about rain forest destruction, The Beans (Andrew Herfst on drums, loops, and sound effects; Tygh Runyan on guitar and sound effects; Stefan Udell on guitar; Damon Henry on bass; Ida Nielson on trumpet, piano, and accordian) are in moments reminiscent of Glasgow’s Mogwai—mixing lazy acoustic intrumentals with television samples and dozy vocals, building tension through what they do not do as much as through what they do. Their Mogwai side becomes most evident on album track Boston RWA, which could have you fooled if you tuned in while it was playing.
    But The Beans, blessed with five fonts of creativity, don’t come off as imitators. Similar on the surface, they are more musically varied, adventurous, and much less 'rock' than their Scottish counterparts.
    On the track I Breathe The Air (From Other Planets), a combination of piano, choral vocals, percussion, sound effects, strings, and electronics makes for a vaguely Asian, vaguely serialist journey. The extreme minimalism and strangeness of the album closer Hollow Stars evokes images of Rothko and Arab Strap—but again bears a quiet and dignified identity apart.
    For a tranquil yet powerful, dreamy and fascinating, and above all different sort of summer LP, we recommend checking out Crane Wars. Three bites out of five.

Rockbites ratings  5: life changing, 4: stunning, 3: captivating, 2: amusing, 1: annoying.

Starting Friday night 10 August at midnight The Beans play a continuous 48 hour concert at Vancouver’s Sugar Refinery for CDN$5. For information call the venue at 604-683-2004 or email the band. This September they’ll stage a full North American tour, and we’ll post dates when we get them. | The Beans | | The Beans' other Website | | The Beans on New Music Canada | | Zum Records | | Fat Cat Records | | top of page |


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