Mr Beatnick – Honeycomb

8.5

Mr Beatnick’s music has gone somewhat under the radar since he started producing in the mid noughties. 

Back then, his sound originated in hip-hop and downtempo on labels like Far Out and Altered Vibes, before the BPMs increased and he started making funk, boogie, broken beat and house. Having been a regular on NTS for years, his productions convey the multitude of influences he’s absorbed as an avid record collector and DJ.

Honeycomb is the long-awaited follow-up LP to 2013’s The Syntheses Trilogy on Don’t be Afraid – an understated record which left those who managed to uncover it wanting more. 

Beehives were inspiring during the making of the album, “with the grooves providing a kind of structure for my synths to swarm around” as the man himself explains. His music champions analogue production processes and live instrumentation, and fresh live percussion in particular lays the foundations in many of the tracks on Honeycomb, giving them a natural swing. 

The title track is gorgeous. Rich, live percussion tumbles ahead of plucky synths and a range of trickling melodic overlays – a smooth let it all wash over you moment to open the record.  

Mr Beatnick tracks are thick with complimentary melodies that often switch between major and minor tones, a feature that feeds into the ‘modern day library record’ description the LP has been given. “Broken Fury”, another broken beat track, demonstrates this nicely – arpeggios played by a kalimba tip-toe ahead of gleaming synths and emotive strings which emerge towards the end. You can easily imagine this one soundtracking visuals of nature, full of movement and colour. 

“Noah’s Mood” has the same amount of energy – a boogie funk number early on with a steady groove, melancholic piano line and jazzy offbeat touches. This one feels like a nod back to The Syntheses Trilogy.

Synth lines creep in and out in “Orion”, taking turns to wrap around the layers of syncopated percussion, more than you’re able to count, to create a highly textural and rhythmic track with a contemplative mood – a definite highlight.

Although the LP is generally pretty light and easy listening, the eery breakbeat “Sixth Sense” and punchy house “Invisible Escalator” both midway through are the heavier exceptions – tracks with no less dominating synths than elsewhere, but with equal dominance down low in the kicks and basslines.  

In contrast, the casual laidbackness of “Royal Jelly” and “To meet her” harks back to Mr Beatnick’s hip-hop days – the latter’s beat he found on an old zip disc and wanted to give it fresh treatment. 

Releasing on his own label Mysthery Records this time, all the turns the record takes leave you not knowing where to look – pulled into that metaphorical beehive.

More quietly brilliant material from an underrated producer.