Beware of Safety
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Beware of Safety

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"It Is Curtains Review 8/10 (2007)"

I like following bands from the very beginning of their career; from that debut twenty-copies-only 7 inch, to the handmade EP, all the way to the fifth studio album, there’s something quite rewarding about being there right from the start. However, as rewarding as that may be, what brings me more joy is just stumbling over a band you, and very few others, never knew existed, and this said band turning out to be great, ala Yndi Halda and Gifts of Enola. It’s akin to the feeling Jermaine Jenas must have every time he’s named in the England squad (obscure football references are the way forward). I’m sure you’ve guessed this already, but that’s what happened when I first heard the debut EP from Californian quartet Beware of Safety.

Opening track ‘Kaura’, possibly named after someone called Laura with fat fingers, could be plenty of other post-rock bands; light guitar work and tremolo picking chime away, before a melodic riff takes over. This could be Caspian, this could be The Timeout Drawer, and it’s definitely straight-up post-rock of the highest caliber. ‘Weak Wrists’ takes a heavier approach, with a dark and sinister feel protruding throughout, which is somewhat reminiscent of Upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start. ‘The Difference Between Mind and Rain’ and ‘Veneklasen’ show a much quieter and measured approach, with shimmering guitars and delay pedals used to full effect.

What really comes across from all the six tracks on It Is Curtains is the sheer emotions Beware of Safety manage to convey with just its instruments and effects pedals. While not up there in the realms of Do Make Say Think and Explosions In The Sky, Beware of Safety are certainly following the right lines to possibly matching myriad of feelings expressed by some of the big post-rock players. While that may be a premature statement on the basis of one EP, if Beware of Safety can produce more tracks like the closing ‘To The Roof! Let’s Jump and Fall’ then its place among the post-rock harmony will be assured. Quite simply, it’s a brilliant song. It uses the tried and tested, and much vaunted, ‘quiet/loud’ dynamic to great success. Starting slowly, it builds into heavy-yet-harmonious riff, before collapsing into a heart wrenching short breakdown, only for the riff to return, this time with added tremolo picking for greater emphasis as it crashes towards the finale. Mono could have written this track, it really is that good.

While Beware of Safety aren’t covering any new ground here, it would be far too harsh and flippant to dismiss them as generic, or merely copying its peers. Each track on It Is Curtains sounds fresh, and for a band using only guitars, bass, and drums, that’s quite an achievement in today’s post-rock environment. At the moment, the EP is one of those lovely hand pressed self –released affairs, but it really won’t be long before this band are signed, so, if you haven’t already, it’s about time you went and stumbled upon a future post-rock giant. - James Ould, The Silent Ballet


"It Is Curtains Review (2008)"

There are times every now and again when you accidentally stumble across a new band or a release that knocks you sideways, but as you know this isn’t a massively common occurrence. I mean, there are tonnes of great bands producing equally great music that is highly enjoyable, but nothing more than that. It doesn’t have the punch to make it truly special and elevate itself from its contemporaries. And then there are bands like Beware of Safety. A band whose music is so fantastically stimulating and emotionally charged, that it manages to far surpass what you’d expect from them, and is delivered with such passion and vibrant energy that you can’t help but lose yourself in what they produce.

Hailing from Los Angeles, Beware of Safely have recently released their remarkable debut EP ‘It Is Curtains’, which contains six phenomenal tracks (totalling almost 38 minutes) of highly impressive and deeply moving guitar and drum compositions that easily rank alongside the big guns of the post-rock genre.

Opening with the sublime ‘Kaura’, the band delicately introduce themselves with subtle washes of guitars, building slowly into engulfing crescendos of immensely powerful and deeply engulfing instrumental music, with the layers of guitars and drums producing a phenomenally huge sound, awash with an intensity that pricks your senses and holds you spellbound. As an introduction to the band themselves as well as their debut release, you couldn’t ask for anything more than ‘Kaura’, as it showcases the majestic nature of this CD perfectly.

With such an immensely impressive opening track, you’d expect a band to struggle to keep up this momentum throughout the remainder of the release. However, BOS don’t just manage to do this, they far surpass it with seeming ease. Mountainous guitar noise and pounding drums create walls of impenetrable density that morph almost instantly into the most fragile of compositions, as delicate as the rarest flower and filled with a similar beauty and allure. Time and time again, you’re taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and sounds, as the soft strums of the guitar and fragile drums encapsulate you with their elegant grace and charm, before you’re overpowered by gigantically consuming slabs of emotionally drenched noise. And what a ride it is.

Brimming with a huge swathe of cinematic qualities, the picturesque nature of the band’s aural sculptures is truly bewitching. The cacophony of instrumental sounds produces dense yet fragile imagery through its lavish compositions which carry the listener along a journey of immense beauty and compelling might. All of which comes to a head in exhilarating splendour with the EP’s closing track, the intriguingly titled ‘To The Roof! Let’s Jump And Fall’, a ten-minute extravaganza of guitar and drum compositions that twist and turn. Exquisitely delicate licks of guitar build up to rambunctious explosions of sound before subsiding again, like the ebbs and flows of the tide. The sound and atmosphere produced is truly monumental, and encapsulates the skill that BOS possess as musicians wonderfully.

Falling rather perfectly into the quiet/noisy recesses of the post-rock genre, it’s easy to see comparisons to the likes of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Mono, Explosions in the Sky and the less known Bloemfontein or even John Murphy’s mammoth score for ‘28 Days Later’, which shares the fragile yet powerful cinematic qualities that ‘It Is Curtains’ contains. But all of that doesn’t matter, as when music is this powerfully emotive and passionately stimulating, you just have to take it for what it is – a slice of near perfect, beautifully composed and rousingly delivered instrumental music at its very, very best.

With quite a bit of interest building up around BOS, it won’t be too long before they’re sitting comfortably alongside the genre’s bigger names, so take this opportunity to get an early introduction to their music, as I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. ‘It Is Curtains’ is a phenomenally beautiful release that is truly worthy of your time. Apparently BOS are working on their full-length debut. I can’t wait to hear how BOS are going to follow this stunning EP. - Lee Powell, JudasKissMagazine.co.uk


"It Is Curtains: Co-Release of the Month by The Silent Ballet (January 2007)"

After the success of second-generation "post-rock" bands in the United States in 2005, there was a noticable increase of new bands forming and putting out debut cds in 2006. While some of these bands were undoubtedly successful, many of them would have benefited from taking a little bit of time to rework the newly birthed material and iron out the weak spots. Beware of Safety could have easily been one of these bands who were quick out of the gates and made an impressive start, even though eventually they ran out of steam on the very lengthy course.

However, Beware of Safety is not one of those bands. It is important to note that three of the members are in their late twenties, with the forth member member sliding in at 23. This is not the (what is now becoming classic) example of college kids coming together in a session of pedal worship. A few years of experience can make all the difference, and in Beware of Safety's case, the decision to not join the bandwagon in 2006 has caught them in the limelight as the rest of the scene takes a breather after an exhaustive year.

Many will be quick to write off Beware of Safety as yet another Explosions in the Sky and/or Mogwai clone. But, let's try to get past that for once in our lives. Let's, for the sake of argument, pretend that these effects existed long before those bands were ever created and that other individuals are capable of using these effects without being so easily written off. Let us also actually delve deeply into It is Curtains and not just browse the tracks, commenting on how they're probably quiet/loud songs with reverb effects, and this equates to the band being unoriginal. With all of this in mind, we push forward.

Now let me be completely contradictory and draw two comparisons to this band, those being of Caspian and This Will Destroy You. The first is not difficult to believe; Beware of Safety is a band that has played with Caspian several times, and will accompany them on the West Coast leg of its April/May tour. The latter is a bit more mysterious. While I don't doubt that the act is aware of the Texan quartet's presence, it would strike me as odd that they would consciously draw upon them as a source of influence; believing otherwise, in my humble opinion, would be wishful thinking. Instead, the comparison is drawn from the band's desire to still maintain somewhat planted in the traditional post-rock sound of "brooding compositions with epic, crushing finales," even if it is by just the skin of a pinkey toe. It is Curtains pays homage to those who came before, while still exploring some new worlds, which is really the ideal goal of any debut release.

In my eyes, the validity of the newer generation of bands rest largely in the shift of focus on emotional content to that of physical substance. Let's be honest, Explosions of the Sky is basically the fluffy emo band of "post-rock," and the sea of wannabes follow directly in those footsteps in the art of, primarily, creating emotions. Although there were certainly instrumental acts who had always strayed from this categorization, it wasn't until The Fall of Math that a large amount of listeners were drawn to something that so blatantly disregarded emotion (and, somewhat ironically, the band begins to fuse it back in with One Time for All Time, albeit in a highly artificial manner). Enter 2005. Caspian's accomplishment was to bring this movement stateside, drawing largely from oceanic resources, and bringing the essence of New England life to the world at large. "Quovis - Futher In - Further Up" does well to mimic the subtle power of the ocean -- from its surging waves to the forceful undercurrent, and future compositions further this ideology. Beware of Safety displays the western side of life, that of living in the infinitely frustrating and increasingly artificial City of Angels. And thus the stage is set for the narrative.

With the motivation of the EP properly contextualized, It is Curtains unfolds with a mechanical like precision, carving a deep path which is then later revisited and filled in with emotional content. The band follows the thinking that if you can play a six-song set in half an hour, people might not consider you to be a pretentious post-rock band. Maybe. The six tracks on the EP follow a consistent narrative while still showing the quartet's diversity. "Kaura" begins the disc with twinkling guitars and hollowed distortions, barely increasing intensity as the track progresses, and just when it begins to gather momentum it fades out (cue the frustration). "Weak Wrists" is where the band begins to distance itself from the pack. The track breaks itself into two, presenting broad swipes of guitar and pummeling drums. The first climax is led into as we'd expect, and the second is thrown at us rather quickly, though not awkwardly. The surprise comes with the third explosion, which appears out of thin air (literally, silence) and blindsides the listener. At this point in time we're beginning to understand why exactly it is we should beware of "safety." The third track returns again to twinkling guitars and simple melodies, a welcome respite after "Weak Wrists."

If the cd continued on like this we'd pat Beware of Safety on the back and tell them they had done a good job, but this is just the appetizer to the main course. "Veneklasen" is a short interlude that resets the palette for the real show. "O'Canada," in its own right, is the standout track of the cd. I've got a strange curiosity for start/stop tracks, those which continually abort and regain momentum, and this is the best I've heard in years. I'm not quite sure what the Canadian reference is to, as no Canadian band that I know has the guts to pull this off, but maybe they've sneaked a peak at the new destroyalldreamers cd. This leads us straight to the behemoth, "To the roof! Let's Jump and Fall..." For the most part, this is a typical 10+ minute quiet/loud post-rock song. It's probably essential that every band have one in its resume, and Beware of Safety has done its homework on this one. Had this come out five years ago we'd be heralding them as the champions of post-rock, the titans who created the infamous wall of sound, but today we'll settle for it just being a bloody good track. The highlight of the track for me is the denouement. Right after the climax the songs begins to unwind and fade out with the guitar outro, ever...so...slowly. Then at the 8:05 mark the momentum begins to rebuild. Typically, we'd expect some distortion effects to sweep us home, ala Mogwai, but this is different. The last two minutes are very focused and controlled, exhibiting a deliberate restraint -- one which suggests that this is just the beginning. Because, yes, if we return to our narrative, life in LA never stops.

Our hats go off to Beware of Safety. In a year that will inevitably be marked with so many fine instrumental releases, they have managed to make their mark on 2007 by placing an early bid. Time shall tell what the future holds for them. This fine release hits the market just a week before the Colts will defeat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. As the band members are huge Patriot fans, they are in mourning over the AFC loss to the Colts, and you should do all you can to cheer them up. Why not buy a copy of It Is Curtains? - Jordan Volz, Editor-in-Chief, The Silent Ballet


"Beware of Safety: Band of the Week (01/28/07)"

Those who enjoy their instrumental rock to emphasize the "rock" should take note of Beware of Safety. This quartet out of Los Angeles concocts an explosive creation that leaves no prisoners. And while the music is loud, noisey, and aggressive, the band really shines in the post-trauma aftermath, showcasing a more sophisticated side that really speaks towards the band's natural talent and understanding of its art. Selected as release of the month, It is Curtains comes highly recommended by the Silent Ballet staff. - The Silent Ballet


"dogs Review (2009)"

Dogs is heavy. Dogs is not everyday fare. But I’ll tell you what, Dogs is as tight as instrumental records come. Each song paints a grand scene more ambitious than the last. Beware Of Safety don’t play pansy instrumental music; you won’t be sitting in front of the speakers saying, “Are they even playing anything?” ... Beware Of Safety successfully meld moments of hard rock with ethereal noodling, and in the process create an album where 10 unique songs become one completely awe-inspiring album. - Blake Solomon, Absolutepunk.net


"dogs Review (2009)"

The tracks (on dogs) are orchestrated magnificently, creating a consistently grandiose feel. Songs such as “The Supposed Common” and “Hexa,” among others, have progressions in such a way as to weave a story as the song goes on. Even though I would recommend a quality set of speakers or headphones for any music, it is especially important with these guys. There are plenty of intricacies that make this a very pleasurable listen, many of which might be missed when heard through your usual white, fruit-branded earbuds. - Ross Solomon, Slug Magazine


"dogs Write-up (2009)"

...Beware of Safety can claim to have the best instrumental guitar rock album in the U.S. - Jordan Volz, Editor-In-Chief, The Silent Ballet


"It Is Curtains Review 5/5 (2007)"

The likes of Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky make up a decent portion of my extra-curricular music listening, so much so that it takes a truly amazing record in that genre to really get my attention. There's something about Beware of Safety that caught my ear immediately. The slow atmosphere sinks through tendrils of perfectly-toned guitar, while white sheets of cymbals and a dissolving snare outline the rhythms, bass perfectly holding the two together. Where similar bands are plenty happy to be depressed in their drone, there's a lack of resignation on this record that gives these songs a little jagged edge to their pillowy, floating sounds. There's hope and there's anger (and a little depression, too). Listen to it on your regular stereo set-up, but to get the most out of it, play it through headphones, and picture cottony clouds below an azure sky... snow-capped peaks viewed from the roof of a city skyscraper... time-lapse film of stars passing through the velvety nighttime heavens. - Pamela, CDBaby.com


"It Is Curtains Review (2008)"

Beware of Safety’s brand of instrumental rock
collects influences from a number of places, none of
which seem to include their native Los Angeles. Their
winding, slow-developing epics will earn them equally
quick, apt and incomplete comparisons to Explosions In
The Sky or Red Sparowes. They also use big, but glacially
paced dynamic swings that nod toward Mogwai or
Yume Bitsu. But there is more to it than that. Some of
the guitar riffs have a feel and tone that are obviously
informed by Built To Spill and Dinosaur Jr more than
recent peers.
The pieces that Beware of Safety constructs these six
songs with are pretty easy to nail down. But the way they put those pieces together is smooth, while being
subtly unpredictable. This is partly because the length
of each part varies from song to song and section to
section. The resulting songs seem sort of oddly shaped
and uncomfortable on the first listen. After a few more
listens, this variation adds another layer to all of the
songs here. Without even a subconscious idea of when
the next riff might arrive–let alone what it will be–each
song takes on a life of its own. In a crowded subgenre,
that’s the most a new band can hope for. - Anderson, theNewScheme.com


"dogs Review 8/10 (2008)"

Back in February of last year, I wrote my first proper review for a student-run newsletter I’d been asked to contribute something to. The record I chose was one I had bought after having read James Ould’s review a couple of weeks earlier and had absolutely fallen in love with, by this exciting new band Beware of Safety. My review was filled with all manner of half-hearted humour and facile attempts at witty descriptions, with such gems as “post-rock with more gonads than Auntie Gertrude” inducing particularly painful cringes over a year and a half later.

In that time I like to kid myself that I have become at least slightly more mature and confident as a reviewer and so it feels rather fitting now to have been assigned to review Beware of Safety’s sophomore release (and first full-length). This is not only because one would hope that increased maturity and confidence might be the hallmarks of a band’s second record, but also because it might hopefully give me the chance to do a band for whom I have great expectations a touch more justice than my first pitiful attempt.

It is Curtains is not a record which had ever before struck me as displaying any lack of maturity or confidence, and to be fair I still don’t think that to say as much would be completely true. However, upon first getting dogs and playing it immediately after having listened to the whole of It is Curtains, the change is fairly astounding. There is no overbearing and easy-to-pinpoint way in which BoS have changed – the guitars and FX pedals have not been swapped for ukuleles and penny whistles and their sound remains ostensibly post-rock – but a multitude of small alterations and an apparent change of approach make for an incredible difference.

Unforgettable yet subtle melodies reverberate throughout the entirety of the album, which for me is where many similarly-inclined bands often fall down. With the more derivative of post-rock acts, there seems to be an inclination towards pretty harmonies in the quiet sections and plain loud noises (ie; crashing cymbals, scuzzy guitars and general flailing) in the more climactic sections, which unfortunately comes with a dearth of memorable melodies. No such problem here, where even atop walls of distortion (as in “Step or Stone”), glorious hooks ring forth like you wouldn’t believe. Another example comes in the title track itself, which is an astoundingly beautiful piece of just less than 3 minutes for acoustic guitar, piano and tremolo- and reverb-drenched slide guitar. It sounds straight out of the more tear-jerking side to Ry Cooder’s back catalogue, and the melody played by the slide guitar is one of those incredibly rare ones that will permanently embed itself in your consciousness and consistently drag you back to hear it just one more time. Aural crack, if you will.

Guitarist Steve Molter mentioned in his interview with Mac Nguyen that their drummer Morgan was new at the time of recording It is Curtains, and although it never impeded my enjoyment of the record I do think that this occasionally became noticeable in parts where the drums didn't sound as tight as they could have done. Again, another small but important change with dogs is the way in which the whole band now works together as a particularly cohesive unit. This is as much due to the mixing of the record as it is to the playing and arranging of the band themselves - the harmonies and rhythms work wonderfully on their own, as well as each and every one of them being given the necessary space to shine in what could have turned into a fairly cramped mix (see the latest God Is An Astronaut release for an idea of how hideously over-crowded things can otherwise get!) - Fred Bevan, The Silent Ballet


Discography

dogs (CD / LP)
The Mylene Sheath
www.mylenesheath.com
January 2009

It is Curtains (LP)
The Mylene Sheath
www.mylenesheath.com
October 2007

It Is Curtains (CD)
Self Released
January 2007

Photos

Bio

Beware of Safety made the conscious choice to create instrumental music.

To create sounds that words could not express.

To leave out the vocal monologue that is without interpretation or insight, but instead, create music which traverses emotional and textural hollows that teeter between concealment and proclamation; between rapture and affliction; between conviction and deprivation; between opulence and destitution; between choice and coercion; between boldness and apathy.

Beware of Safety calls the unspeakable from it's hiding place and imparts it to their listeners with gentle tact and deliberate action.

The inexpressible has found it's voice.