the collaboration between thomas mullarney iii and jacob gossett has proved fruitful; as beacon, the brooklyn duo has slowly transformed an art institute friendship into a tour de force of murky, nocturnal soundscapes laced with seductive vocals and fastidious drum beats. on escapements, beacon’s second full-length, mullarney and gossett double down on the nuances of their compositional integrity to turn in a final product packed with a strong awareness of form, deeply-buried grooves, and subtle about-faces.
escapements are the mechanisms inside clocks tasked with regulating time; while immediately analogous to the metronomic pulse of tracks like “preserve” and “better or worse,” the term refers more to the duo’s exploration of the finite, the inevitability of decay. the opening line of “running out” (“what if my luck run out / in these games we play”) and the abrupt shifts in dynamics and tone on tracks like “backbone” and “still” find beacon harnessing this relative brevity, using it both to their immediate advantage and as a thematic tool for ambiguous introspection.
beacon’s insatiable appetite for bending new textures and structures to fit their needs resonates so deeply across escapements. brooding, r&b-influenced palettes may be the duo’s bread and butter, but it routinely transcends a two-dimensional plane with purposeful countermelodies (“preserve,” “backbone”) and an adroit use of polyrhythm (“running out,” “l1”). when an a-b structure threatens to become mundane, mullarney and gossett return to pop conventions or flirt with a theme and variation. when an electronic timbre has become all but uniform, they infuse the soundscape with guitars (“escapements,” “still”) or veer off into the uncharted church organ territories of “you’re wandering.”
escapements is a soundtrack for the nights you spend in the company of another. its lurking sub-bass throbs like a second heartbeat, working in tandem with percussion to propel the perpetual union of gossett’s aqueous arpeggios and mullarney’s stratospheric sighs. tycho drummer rory o’connor drops by to add an organic touch to a handful of tracks, augmenting the duo’s intimacy while taking care to never overstep any boundaries. it’s all these subtle flourishes and enhancements together that make beacon’s work so invigorating, from the sultry, stuttering hook on “im u” through to the infectious melody that bounces across “preserve.” escapements is an album near impossible to put down; go pick it up.