Review: Greg Beato – When Monkeys Attack (Apron)

Greg Beato – When Monkeys Attack (Apron)

I had begun to wonder where Greg Beato had got to. Fair enough, there have been a number of remixes, and his work on Forbidden Planet under his Breaker 1 2 guise to keep us going since that last heaving, messy roar of acid madness on Apron but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t nearly enough.

Out of all the bods who appeared almost out of nowhere two or three years back, with nothing to their names but some semi knackered tape machines and a taste for serrated bass lines and chewed up beats, Beato was the one you could tell wasn’t playing at it, even when his music didn’t always seem as serious as the technorati demanded. Dirty, grimy, gutteral music yes, but music with a smile (even if that smile seemed to be of the Chelsea sort) that was partly borne out of the thrill of his raggedy take on acid and techno, and partly because you suspected he was the genuine article, someone with an authentic feel for the grooves and rawness rather than another techno academic with a frigid, clinical interest in the sounds.

When Monkeys…, isn’t just a facsimile of hise two previous releases on Apron though, and its less in a hurry to get to the point than either of them. In fact in some ways he’s learned more from his work on PMA, the release on LIES from a couple of years back; tunes seem happier taking more exploratory paths, the sounds are deeper and less thick, and it feels as if influences have been taken from sources other than the most virile of acid. The title track is a case in point. It has the feel of Jeff Mills’ furious techno-rave banger The Sun in the way it snaps at you with the rim shots, and snares, and percussion so dirty and sharp you wouldn’t touch it for fear of blood poisoning. The chattering synths combine with the wondering, deep-lying bass to create something strangely sunny and optimistic, and convinces you that this is what disco could sound like if the scene had allowed it to develop and evolve instead of keeping it locked in a box so it could milk nostalgia-juice from at far too regular intervals.

It also points to a new maturity in Beato’s sound, as if he’s become more comfortable letting the music find its own way along without having to be directed straight for the jugular. The energy has been re-purposed, in fact. El Dinero Falla, which starts off in much the same manner as When Monkeys… ended, quickly wrong foots you into a surprisingly downbeat number that makes its mark through its busted, whimsical melodies. The beats are as crunchy as ever, the tune as playful as anything on the earlier Apron releases, but it draws itself together with the help of much tighter inner logic, calming itself at the right moments and letting the grooves shuttle the mood around nicely.

While his talent has not always been quite matched by his releases – the record on LIES, for instance, while perhaps closer to this one in spirit, seemed to lack the energy and focus of the two heavy Apron hitters that book-ended it – the ideas have always been there. What made the Apron records so special is that they simply delivered at first time of asking. You got an immediate sense what it was all about. When Monkeys Attack is now his third solo release on Stephen Julien’s excellent label, and once again it’s been a mutually beneficial relationship. Beato always saves his best for FunkinEven.