Beast: A Musical Experiment You Can Dance To

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Mr. Hurricane"
  • Artist: Beast
  • CD: Beast
  • Genre: Electronic Rock
Beast 300

hide captionBeast's "Mr. Hurricane" sounds like a few wildly different songs, spliced together in perfect harmony.

courtesy of the artist

Artists who take poet Ezra Pound's famous advice — "Make it new" — often find success not in creating genres out of thin air, but in compounding old ones in new and unexpected ways. What makes a weird musical experiment work? It sure helps if you can dance to it.

One project that has found solid success in genre-bending is the Canadian duo Beast, a collaboration between industry veteran Jean-Phi Goncalves and Betty Bonifassi of The Triplets of Belleville fame. Beast's eponymous album fluctuates dramatically among decades and influences, but "Mr. Hurricane" stands as a particularly impressive experiment in sound-building. Full and textured, this dance-floor gem revels in one extended hook: Serious funk and trip-hop provide a guttural intensity, but soaring gospel vocals rescue it from pure grittiness.

The song appears to mix themes as well as styles. It shifts from symbolic heartbreak ("Deceit and lies were your crying game / I never fell in love so deeply in vain") to hinting in the chorus at something more political and poetic: "Broke out of the harness / Crumbled in the darkness / Overcame the madness / Finally righteous / I love the beast, y'all." The result sounds like a prepackaged remix of a few wildly different songs, spliced together in perfect harmony.

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  • Album: Beast
  • Artist: Beast
  • Label: Verve
  • Released: 2009
 

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