The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards
Worth a buy on the strength of the rather fetching Czech new wave/pulp fiction-inspired cover alone, which is a typically eye-catching design by Ghost Box’s resident visual genius, Julian House.
The music on Beautify Junkyards’ third album offers instant gratification too, as the Lisbon collective strike up a woozy amalgam of esoteric English psych-folk and Brazilian tropicalia. There’s also tinges, of kosmische and an underlying hauntological vibe (this is Ghost Box, remember) adding an eerie, dystopian edge.
It’s splendid stuff, but then you’d expect nothing less from a band whose beatific cover versions of Kraftwerk’s ‘Radioactivity’ and Nick Drakes’ ‘From The Morning’ were as dizzyingly good as the originals. And as with their first two LPs, there’s much to love here — standouts include the swirling ‘Sybil’s Dream’, channelling Broadcast’s wistful retro-futurism, and the transcendental Os Mutantes-like ‘Manhã Tropical’. Anything but invisible, it’s a bewitching album that you’ll warm to immediately.
So slowly has the Ghost Box family grown, and so rarely do artists get to become part of the label’s small roster, that each new arrival comes with an implied certificate of authenticity. So it is with Portugal’s Beautify Junkyards, who after a 45 entry in the Other Voices series last year, here present their third album of spacey acid-folk. The combo treads delicately through 15 percussive, pastoral tracks, singing sometimes in English, sometimes in Portuguese. Indeed, the ability to understand the lyrics feels unimportant. Nor are acoustic instruments always to the fore – in fact a good deal of the texture of the LP comes from a deftly-wielded electronic palette, and the thing Beautify Junkyards undoubtedly do best is marry those two worlds in a satisfyingly seamless way. Atmospheric, immersive, and arcane, The Invisible World Of.. is a record out of time and as such a natural fit on Ghost Box.
There’s something unusually special lurking in the opulent psychedelic foliage of this third album from Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards; their first for Ghost Box. The band first appeared on Fruits de Mer in 2012 covering Nick Drake’s From The Morning and his lazy riverbank soliloquys could provide one reference point. But so could a surface resemblance to peak Incredibles, Forest or Dr Strangely Strange. Still, these comparsions swiftly become just essences swirling in a cauldron stirred from their own evocative visions, as previously honed on their self-titled debut album and 2015’s celestial The Beast Shouted Love.
The band’s versatility is demonstrated by the vocal interplay between keyboardist João Branco and Rita Vian (occasionally singing in Portuguese) swooping over shimmering backdrops created by Joao Moreira’s mountain stream guitar, Sergue Ra’s earth’s core bass, Antonio Watts’ disparate percussion and Helena’s Espuall’s autumnal cello, enhanced by tropicalia rhythms and the icy strings and flute of a Mellotron on Ghost Dance and others.
Tracks like the sinister The Masque Of The Hidden Garden, spoken word tapestry Half Marble and cello-coated instrumental Golden Apples Of The Sun reinforce this beautifully-packaged helping of 21st century acid-folk at its headiest.
I was enchanted by Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards on their last album, and this third outing has the same effect. Effortlessly blending English acid folk and Brazilian tropicalia, you may find yourself transported to another world via this sparkling new release. Led by João Branco Kyron and Rita Vian and a talented backing group, TIWoBJ will be like nothing you’ve heard this year, with tunes like pastoral tone paintings, suffused with warmth and an appealing languor. Every song leaves you wanting more, such as the semitropical opener, “Ghost Dance” or the splendid “Sybil’s Dream,” featuring Vian singing lead, both with the magical sonic tapestry that permeates this record. Likewise, “Golden Apples of the Sun” is a windswept stunner, and “Echo Chamber” is equally brilliant. And on it goes. Brava!
The Big Takeover
The third album for Portuguese band Beautify Junkyards, their first for the prestigious English label Ghost Box after the single for the Other Voices series. It remains in the magnificent dreamy realm of the two previous albums, though from the opening song, “Ghost Dance”, relying more on acoustic instruments. The group is strengthened by a new element, the Swedish cellist Helena Espvall, former member of folksters, Espers replacing JP Daniel (synth and guitar). There are fifteen hallucinogenic acid drops, the result of numerous improvisational sessions, are graced with alternating voices, the visionary João Branco Kyron and the melancholic Rita Vian. In the songs sung in English, “Prism” and “Aquarius”, the voice of the latter evokes blurred images of the past like old Polaroids. Conversely in “”Manha Tropical”, “Cabeca-Flor” and “Claridade” the songs in Portuguese have more humour; a tropical sound that’s sweetly nostalgic. It’s a tireless work of interwoven of minimalist guitar, harmonious synth with sudden blooms of cello, especially in the instrumental track “Golden Apples of the Sun”, where the poetic traits of Espvall emerge. Welcome to the invisible world of Beautify Junkyards.
Terzo album per i portoghesi Beautify Junkyards, primo por la prestigiosa etichetta inglese Ghost Box dopo la parentesi del singollo Other Voices series. Si rimane nella magnifica sfera sognante dei due precedenti album, anche se sin dal primo brano, Ghost Dance, l’approccio volge su strumentazioni acustiche, rafforzato dall’innesto di un nuovo elemento, la violincellista svedese Helena Espvall, ex membro dei folkster Espers, che bilancia l’uscita dal gruppo di JP Daniel (synth e chitarra). Sono quindici piccole gocce allucinogene, frutto di numerose session d’improvisazione e graziate dall’alternanza delle voci, quella visionaria di Joao Branco Kyron e quella malinconica di Rita Vlan. Nei brani cantati in inglese, Prism e Aquarius, la voce di quest’ultima evoca immagini sfuocate del passato come certe foto di una vecchia Polaroid, al contrario in Manha Tropical, Cabeca-Flor e Claridade il canto in poroghese riporta all’umore tropicale dolcemente nostalgico. Un lavorio instancibile di intrecci fra chitarre minimali e armoniose volute di synth con ariosi innesti di violincello, in particolare nella traccia strumentale Golden Apples of the Sun, dove emerge il tratto poetico della Espvall. Benvenuti nell’invisibile mondo dei Beautify Junkyards.
Deep in the woods glows a masterpiece from Beautify Junkyards
Densely lysergic of texture and ethereally pagan, Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards take late 60s UK acid folk as a launch pad. The band caress the swooping vocal interplay between keyboardist João Branco Kyron and Rita Vian with intricately shimmering backdrops forged around João Moreira’s rippling acoustic guitar, Sergue Ra’s bass, Antonio Watts’ percussion and Helena Espvall’s autumnal cello. There are sprinkles of Incredibles or Forest here, Principal Edwards or Trees there, certainly echoes of the ornate riverbank reflection garnished by Robert Kirby for Nick Drake. But something deeply special to Beautify Junkyard glows in their dense reverie, including their love of Brazilian Tropicalia that infuses their psychedelic cauldron and gives any Tyrannosaurus Rex-style woodland bongos exotic grounding. Technological evolution is one key element the band have over acid folk’s original pranksters, enabling them to lace “Ghost Dance” with Mellotron flute, bathe “The Masque The Hidden Garden” in Medieval tomb ambience and coat everything in synthesised luminescence and mystery. It all elevates their 21st-century psych folk to a magical higher level.
Ghost dances, echo chambers, dreams and prisms, golden apples of the sun and the age of aquarius. Although figuratively invisible, the world of Beautify Junkyards is one that fascinates before one even crosses the sonic threshold of their dreamlike and lunar dimension. How not to be intrigued in the presence of a Portuguese band that debuts with a cover disc where Linda Perhacs is honored next to Os Mutantes, Kraftwerk, Vashiti Bunyan and Nick Drake? This debut came in 2013 and a passion for 1960s English acid folk, the music of Cosmic Couriers and tropicalia influences from Brazil defined the boundaries through which the warm and delicately exotic hauntology of the Lisbon group moved.
The arrival on Ghost Box for this third album refines a timeless and irresistibly multi-faceted concept. A line that combines Broadcast with The High Llamas, pastoral sounds with sci-fi library music, autumnal acoustic guitars and spectral echoes, synths and cello, percussion with the ethereal voice of Rita Vian. Ranging from lullabies in Portuguese to more hypnotic pieces these are naturalists who would put Sun Araw at ease. If the typical collagistic approach of the Ghost Box roster is absent, the album is a composition of evocative and bewildering watercolors, in which different worlds and fantasies cross each other in a plausible way. Imaginative psychedelic folk, in the usual superlative packaging of Julian House, allows one to dream (at least for 50 minutes) of the return of the beloved half-seasons.
Danze di fantasmi, camere dell’eco, sogni e prismi, mele dorate del sole e acquari”. Seppur figurativamente invisibile, il mondo dei Beautify Junkyards è di quelli che affascinano prima di varcarne la soglia sonora della loro dimensione onirica e lunare. Come non incuriosirsi al cospetto di una band portoghese che esordisce con un disco di cover dove Linda Perhacs è omaggiata accanto a Os Mutantes, Kraftwerk, Vashiti Bunyan e Nick Drake? Era il 2013 e la passione per l’acid folk inglese dei Sessanta, la musica dei corrieri cosmici e le influenze tropicaliste del Brasile erano già i confini entro cui si muoveva l’hauntology calda e delicatamente esotica della formazione di Lisbona.
L’approdo su Ghost Box per questo terzo album raffina un concept senza tempo e irresistibilmente multiforme. Una linea che unisce i Broadcast con The High Llamas, suoni pastorali con certa library music sci-fi, chitarre acustiche autunnali ed echi spettrali, synth e violoncello, percussioni con la voce eterea di Rita Vian che spazia da ninne nanne in portoghese ad ambientazioni ipno-naturaliste che metterebbero a proprio agio anche Sun Araw. Se manca l’attitudine collagista tipica di parte della scuderia Ghost Box, l’album è una composizione di acquarelli evocativi e stralunati, in cui mondi diversi e fantasticati si incrociano in maniera credibile. Folk psichedelico immaginifico, nel “solito” packaging superlativo realizzato da Julian House, per sognare (almeno per 50 minuti) il ritorno delle beneamate mezze stagioni.
il Mucchio Selvaggio
Beautify Junkyards come from Lisbon, but in their music, geography is more a matter of imagination than a passport. This their third album is the first releaseed by a foreign label, Ghost Box, and its adherence to the “hauntological” canon is very free and above all very pop, yet still rigorous. The songs start out from a certain style of early ’70s, British folk en plein air and arrive at Broadcast. On the way they pass tropicalist evocations (Manhà Tropical like a steel from Os Mutantes), foggy, blurry keyboards and an eerie Moondog percussive architecture. There are digital flavors imbued with vintage reflections. The new member of he band, Helena Espvall (Espers, Masaki Batoh) on cello, acoustic guitar and zither embellishes the textures of a music already evocative of her other work.
I Beautify Junkyards provengono da Lisbona, ma nella loro musica la geografia è più un fatto d’immaginazione che di passaporto. Questo loro terzo album è il primo pubblicato da un’etichetta estera, Ghost Box, e la loro ade-sione al canone “hauntologico” è molto libera e soprattutto molto pop, ma comunque rigorosa: le canzoni partono da certo folk britannico en plein air primi ’70 e arrivano ai Broadcast, passando per evocazioni tropicaliste (una Manhà Tropical che pare rubata ai Mutantes), tastiere nebbiose, sfocate e eerie, architetture percussive alla Moondog e sapori digitali imbastarditi da riflessi vintage. Il freschissimo ingresso in formazione di Helena Espvall (Espers, Masaki Batoh) a violoncello, chitarra acustica e zither impreziosisce le trame di una musica già di suo evocativa.
Alessandro Besselva Averame
Acid-tinged six-piece, Beautify Junkyards, are set to release their third album, ‘The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards’, this Friday 9th March on Ghost Box Records. Led by João Branco Kyron on vocals and keyboards, Rita Vian on vocals and synth, João Moreira on acoustic guitar and synth, Sergue Ra on bass, Antonio Watts on drums, and newest member Helena Espvall (formerly of Espers) on cello and acoustic guitar, the band have successfully managed to take an interesting blend of genres from different corners of the world and weave them together to create a sublime mixture of English acid folk and Brazilian Tropicalia. This is especially apparent on the song “Aquarius” which has influences of Latin style percussion infused with echoes of cosmic acid-medieval England, a period of time that I’m not sure ever even existed. Think Os-Mutantes meets Stereolab meets The Incredible String Band.
Three songs into the album and I feel as though I’m being swaddled in a fantasy, the faint sound of bird song pleasantly surrounds me and paints a picture of nature – this is the song “Prism”, perhaps it is named so because, like many of the songs on this album it is almost three-dimensional. Like a sound-painting framed with the melancholic mixture of male and female vocals, and hung up on display inside a woodland fairy-tale.One song that really stands out for me is “Cabeca-Flor’” possibly because it’s slightly more stripped back than the others, just João Moreira’s rippling guitar, sounding like South American sunshine from 1969, dreamy synth tones and vocals which hold a sweet naive fragility that reverberates through time and almost carries you back to the days of Fairport Convention.
The production is laced with a haunted electronic palette which separates the band from it’s competitors and slightly subdues the more dream-like elements, creating the perfect balance of light and dark. One of the less sunshine songs on the album would be the very last song ‘Trackways”, which may leave you with a slightly more eerie feeling than the previous tracks. A woman’s voice echoes numbers and words like alien poetry. This sounds a lot less fairy-tale, and a lot more paranormal.
This talented Lisbon bunch have woven together an eclectic mix of sounds to create a futuristic medieval tapestry, sprinkled with echoes of the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Stereolab, Os Mutantes and strange pagan gatherings attended by cosmic-acid entities. Somehow ‘The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards‘ takes you back to a place of psychedelic nostalgia while simultaneously blasting you off into a time that has yet to exist, a time that we can only dream of existing!
Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards weave together a dream world of subtle Tropicalia (think Gal Costa submerged in water) and psychedelic folk. Rhythms shift like sands under their feet, while the band stitches languid plucks of guitar to glycerin synths and the humid swirl of birdsong. The effect of The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards is that of being sucked into an elaborate picture book grown thick with glowing fauna in hues of deep orange, magenta and verdant green. It’s a haunting sub-tropical vision of psychedelia that’s both childlike and laden with a lifetime of ennui. The band is able to build and tend to this sonic garden, bursting with colors, but it seems that the caretakers are burdened with a sadness that keeps the glow alive.
The band adds a new dimension to their stable with the addition of new member Helena Espvall of psychedelic folk purveyors Espers. Her cello and voice flesh out the band’s vision with myriad pinpricks of hazy light – echoing on her deep catalog of psychedelia tinged with no lack of heavy sighs. It could be me, but the inclusion of an instrumental named “Golden Apples of The Sun” seems like a slight nod to the beloved Arthur Mag compilation of psych-folk revivalists in which her own Espers was included. Here, though, she’s not the only focus, sharing the vocal spotlight with Ria Vian, who also shines in shades of silken sadness and working through the orchestrated vision of the band’s João Branco Kyron.
As a whole, this is an elevated version of what the band had begun on their debut and expanded on for their Ghost Box single a while back. It’s easy to see how they fit into the label’s menagerie of storybook wonder and hypnogogic shimmer. The record unfolds with new layers of rippling beauty with each listen, marking it amongs the gentler fare of the vaunted label’s roster. It’s an album, worth sinking into and just letting the tide take ya. Forget the life raft and just float in my opinion.
Raven Sings The Blues
This week we’ll finish with the gentle folk strummings and soft wistful air of Lisbon band Beautify Junkyards. Out mid March on English label Ghost Box, the group’s third LP, The Invisible World Of Beautify Junkyards is a strange, yet enchanting album. While, in lesser hands the bands‘ 60s indebted pastoral twinklings could have sounded cynical and calculated, their songs have such a sense of wide-eyed innocence that it is impossible not to be won over by their charm. Ghost Dance and Sybil’s Dream open proceedings with the gentle strum of an acoustic guitar, hushed drums and the mere suggestions of snyths and bass. Sounding like they could be emanating from a collection of faded photographs, songs such as Golden Apples Of The Sun, Aquarius, Sorceress and May Day Eve recall the wistful romanticism of Broadcast, sitting heavily but happily on the soul. If you like to daydream, or reminisce about ‚better days‘ The Invisible World Of Beautify Junkyards could well be the record for you.
Two years and more have passed since Beautify Junkyards last passed this way, with the superlative The Beast Shouted Love. Well, they’re back with their third album and a union with Ghost Box that is both initially startling (the label is scarcely renowned for its attention to songs) and blindingly obvious.
The label’s catalog has long been a touchstone in the Junkyards’ own sonic assemblage, and though The Invisible World is still a long way from We Are All Pan’s People or Seance at Hob’s Lane, whatever the threads that do bind the Ghost Box family may be, their embrace is effortless here.
Comparisons to Broadcast will doubtless fly, too, and they may be justified. Most of all, though, The Invisible World is an inexorable step forward from The Beast…, just as that so clearly built on its predecessor. Indeed, Beautify Junkyards’ entire career-so-far has been forged upon a relentless journey through the darker hinterlands of what might once have passed for eerie psychedelia, but is now wholly out on its own, somewhere between the house at the end of the lane, and the mists that envelop the churchyard.
No need to play favorites with its contents; “Ghost Dance,” “May Day Eve,” “Echo Chamber,” “Golden Apples of the Sun,” the wash of electronics that both compliments and distorts the band’s own internal components (English acid, Brazilian Tropicalia, German Kosmiche)… invisible or not, there is a world of impression and imagination to be scoured from these grooves. And that stunning sleeve design is only the beginning.
Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards third album The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards continues to mine their unique path of pastoral acid-folk and shimmering electronica. Much of this material is stunningly gorgeous – Rita Vian’s vocals on ‘Sybil’s Dream’ tied to a perfect shimmering backing is one such wonder. Tracks like lead single ‘Aquarius’ and ‘Manha Tropical’ expand this palette with a more latin approach whilst retaining an otherworldly-ness.
The production and range of instruments is very adventurous recalling Mike Oldfield, typified by ‘Golden Apples of the Sun’ and ‘Shelter’. With the second half containing such jewels as ‘Claridade’ and ‘Sorceress’ matching the standard set earlier by ‘Sybil’s Dream’, The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards will be an album that will live long in the hearts of the listener.