Top 5: Beats Antique

Beats Antique
Blind Threshold
Antique Records
Street: 09.14

Music sometimes described as “belly dance” can be immediately off-putting to listeners bred on a steady diet of rock or dance. Fortunately for fans of the unique, San Fransisco’s Beats Antique carry everything you need in their packs: touches of North African Raï, Bedouin melodies and healthy doses of dubstep. This isn’t music to belly dance to, traditionally—it may be far too electronic for some dance troupes and that’s fine. Blind Threshold lends itself to breakdance moves more than any other form of old school technique. Dance talk aside, this album is laced with music you can just sit and relax to as the styles of acts as diverse as Balkan Beat Box (BBB) and Flying Lotus cohabitate. A BBB hip hop essence emerges in the only track with English vocals on the album, LYNX’s “Rising Tide,” as a Fly Lo-style organic beat cascades in the background. It’s moments like this when Beats Antique’s new-school world takes on traditional American styling: “I will write you a song that sounds like a faded photograph of your favorite night … You know you were born for more than what machines provide,” croons LYNX. This post-modern juxtaposition of century-old song with hip hop makes for one of the best tracks of the year and shows what the band is about—distancing themselves from new, soulless providers like cameras while simultaneously embracing memories created by technology. Unfortunately, only that one song expresses the bands’ message in words I understand. Fortunately, however, the rest of the album speaks as only their instrumental music can, via a collision of ancient dune-wanderer woodwinds and modern computer beeps. Beats Antique carried a spark of new fire in their backpack as they traversed a desert of modern electronic gadgets at the end of the decade and subsequently made one of the best albums of 2010. –JP