Celebrating its tenth anniversary with its tenth studio release, the Bay Area’s wildly innovative performance dynamo Beats Antique emerges from the studio with a brand new album and stage show to mark the milestone. With legendary sets at some of the most iconic venues and festivals around the world and collaborations with superstars from Les Claypool to Bassnectar, the next chapter in the trio’s story takes them back to a mysterious world.
When multi-instrumentalists David Satori and Tommy Cappel and choreographer Zoe Jakes dove into development of the new Beats Antique era, the concept of Shadowbox emerged. Driven by the infinite wonders of the deceptively simple design, the narrative of shadows and light, of darkness and contrast, of reality and surreality propelled the music and vision into new territory.
Capturing the heart of the Beats Antique sound means skirting that divide between the electric and the acoustic. Balkan melodies strung over crashing cymbals and marching band horn lines run smack into contemporary electronic grooves. It might be the drums and brass or the sweeping psychedelic strings that will take you for a ride down the rails of a steampunk circus. It’s chaos and cacophony on a very tight leash.
All three members shared production duties to harness the sound they first stumbled upon a decade ago: far east meets wild west. Bringing in sarod master Alam Khan (son of Ali Akbar Khan) Jakes was able to take her study of Indian classical dance from the stage to the studio. Russian singer Tatiana Kalmykova resurrected an ancient folk language to evoke a haunting fairy tale that feels at home in the shadows. Beats Antique also recruited rising stars of brass house TOO MANY ZOOZ for the horn-fueled funk and punk central to their sound.
As always, Tommy Cappel focused his efforts on the beats and bass production, while David Satori assembled an armory of stringed, plucked, and bowed instruments from far-flung lands to adorn the low-end foundation. All samples were created live in the studio — a hallmark of the lush warmth of a Beats Antique record.
The Shadowbox stage show will be teased at Red Rocks and Electric Forest before its full unveiling this fall. Taking the theme of shadow play and expanding the concept forward and backward in time, the core members dove deep, influenced by ancient practices of Indonesian shadow puppetry, falling into the world of wayang kulit, the eons long tradition of storytelling where epic tales unfold into the wee hours of the morning.
Enormous lanterns adorn the stage, casting light upon a maze of curtains where playful new characters dance and fight and rejoice and mourn. Beats Antique is breaking the boundaries of conventional wisdom. Why can’t an electronic music performance encompass a range of emotion?
This isn’t a nuclear-powered laser light show from the ever-intensifying optical arms race of the EDM industry. This is one of the earliest methods of storytelling brought from the past into the present. The digital is there to enhance the analog, notes Jakes. We’re here to tell a story, Satori adds.
Bringing an album from the shadows of the studio to the brightly lit stage is what Beats Antique does best. These are storytellers for a digital age — equipped with the newest technology and ancient traditions. This is where the Beats meet the Antique.