With great personal anticipation for Boy Eats Drum Machine's upcoming album, Two Ghosts, I give you this review of BEDM's first studio album, Pleasure. Released to modest fanfare in 2005, the album is an even mix of electronica, soul, western bravado, and sweet sensibilities. Several of the to-be-released songs from Two Ghosts have been leaked by the band, and are outstanding. Afford yourself the opportunity to catch up with BEDM, and the sound that has been honed and coerced over the past several years of playing live shows, and recording.
Pleasure opens with the electronic quiver of synthetic stringed instruments. BEDM leader (at one time, sole member) Jon Ragel lets out a soft voice in a high pitch. It is clear that he feels comfortable melding that high pitch with his deeper pitch which is often reduced to the pace of spoken word. He can become light as a feather, or coarse (ala Living Colour's Corey Glover), as on "Introduction A." Such is evident on "I'm an Angel Telling Lies," where the self-conflicted title is echoed by the spirit of the music--evil cloaked by good.
"Eunuch" defies its cringe inducing title by splicing computer geek digital bleeps with emotional pleas--a digital dash toward the mid-eighties. "Si(x)cuse me" has a Texas-style rodeo guitar wrangle that pops in after several kicks of the electronic bass drum and high hat. This western vibe gives way to the passionate lust of Ragel's voice, as he sings "5% of you is not enough," backed by ominous howls from some deep southern specter. His voice is more pliant with each song. "Let's Get Lost Sometime," for my money, stands out. It opens with Ragel sounding mildly like Bowie--and at times, he reduces himself to a whisper, to suggest that "we get lost, in the furthest way."
The D-I-Y vibe of this first studio effort (recorded in Ragel's basement) by no means inhibits the quality of this album. For an album as spontaneous as is claimed, it comes off as well thought out; almost narrative. The album includes several "instrumentals" of fine quality--enabling ambience suitable for the bar or club or party. The digital vibe recalls Portishead (whom Ragel cites as an influence), or perhaps Lamb.
"Sometimes You Wanna Go Where Nobody Knows Your Name" wraps the album in a warm acoustic glow--slow, soft, it caresses your ears as you lay in the grass on a day too hot to move. Keep your eyes open this July: if the leaked tracks from Two Ghosts are any indication of the album's sum, BEDM should be spending plenty of time in the warm light of this summer's expanding sun. • Robert Karmin