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Broaching the album is the music video for ‘Camera,’ directed in Cape Town by Jarred Figgins.
12 Views Of Beatenberg will be the first record by the band to be initially released much further afield than their South African habitat. Fronted by guitar-wieding Matthew Field, with Robin Brink on percussion and Ross Dorkin on bass, Beatenberg are a Cape Town-based trio of tinkerers drawing from the vast oeuvre of South African pop sounds to bring an insight and intellect to a genre often without. Their 2014 debut, The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg LP was a sun-kissed, afro-rhythmic and moreish record where melody meant everything and is worth digging out; a real gem that did much for them at home and helped to sew the initial seed for 12 Views Of Beatenberg ’s creation.
In early 2016, The Hanging Gardens garnered the attention of Mumford & Sons, who flew in for a first tour of South Africa. At first listen, they shoe-horned Beatenberg onto all their live line-ups and invited them into the studio to record the Johannesburg EP alongside Senegal’s Baaba Maal and Malawi-London fused The Very Best.
The album won an impressive seven South African Music Awards, with two tracks occupying #1 spots for 36 consecutive weeks. Hoping to enjoy the same warm reception in their continued journey abroad, 12 Views sees the band exploring new territories across the globe as well as within their musical selves.
“Those boys have serious chops!” remarkedMarcus Mumford, Mumford & Sons
The 12 Views is mainly a reference (via division by a third) to Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mt Fuji. In Hokusai’s series of 36 prints, the mountain – which is a volcano – is represented as seen from 36 different positions in the surrounding region and throughout the seasons. What I like is how inventive and varied these ‘views’ are. The mountain is sometimes snowy, sometimes fiery, sometimes pale, sometimes just an outline; sometimes the mountain is the central focus of the image, but sometimes it is just a little triangle on the horizon of a completely separate scene. I have lived in Cape Town almost all my life and while working on this album I instinctively and vaguely plugged Table Mountain into this scheme as a kind of Mt Fuji... In my mind Table Mountain became, very loosely, a symbol for a kind of constant, unavoidable but sometimes stifling awareness of one’s place in the world and history. This is maybe the most meaningful way that the title reflects concerns and considerations throughout the work.Matt, Beatenberg
12 Views of Beatenberg takes this approach to task with an array of tracks that are varied, curious and handsome in their explorations of the band’s path to the present day, through an unpredictably South African nostalgia central to their uniqueness. Sometimes dreamy, sometimes jazzy, sometimes pop-tastic and back again, the entire album highlights the band’s versatility; even in areas where tracks are meticulously layered, they translate with ease. Evolving the balmy, beachy nuances that made bands like Vampire Weekend what they are, Beatenberg brings forth its own feeling of introspective warmth and universal deja vu.
Camera, the song and video release recorded in Cape Town and mixed in Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Margate, speaks to the album’s self-reflection across time and space. Where film, fleece and fronds were abundant in the late 80s landscape, the boys embrace the things they saw with the things they have become. Ode to the Berg Wind mirrors the whistling, calamitous yet cleansing qualities of Cape Town’s infamous ‘wind of change.’ Amidst twinkles, snares, hand claps, jazzy outroes, Charlie Brown theme-music interludes and the unmistakable Beatenberg vocal harmonies and scats, this is an album that can be appreciated anywhere, at any time, by anyone.
Beatenberg is: Matthew Field (vocals/guitar), Robin Brink (drums), Ross Dorkin (bass).