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The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg

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Cape Town-based three piece pop band Beatenberg’s latest album, The Hanging Gardens of Beathenberg, has been a raging success. It has won the band three South African Music Awards including Album of the Year, Best Pop Album and Best Group. The single Pluto is a collaboration with the well-known DJ Clack and held the number one spot on South African radio for a record nineteen weeks.

African-infused beats characterize each song on the album and form an integral part of Beatenberg’s unique, local sound. Relatable lyrics such as, “Can I please come over in my green land rover? I wanna take you over, like you’re taking over me” are sung sincerely by Matthew Field, lead singer and guitarist, who is best likened to Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard or Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.

Further lyrical content describes an ordinary suburban life in what feels like an endearingly honest way. Listeners may find themselves smiling at ironic phrases such as “I dropped out of philosophy, at least I’m more handsome than Socrates” in the downbeat, Facebook Apologia. Songs frequently allude to the romantic confusion that seems to colour the life of the current generation of 20 somethings. Pluto’s melancholic line, “A distant planet is pulling me away from you” is perhaps the best example of this sweetly poetic helplessness.

The careful fusion of clean melody lines with tight instrumental accompaniment points to the formal musical training of the band members as well as a collective commitment to perfectionism. A live performance by Beatenberg is equally flawless, placing the band among the most booked artists in South Africa. Cape Town has seen the band open for huge international acts such as 30 Seconds to Mars and One Direction. Following the release of The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg, the band was hand-picked by the well-loved Mumford and Sons to open for them on their international tour, Gentlemen of the Road.

Highlights on Beatenberg’s latest album include Ithaca, Scorpion Fish and the celebrated, remixed and replayed Chelsea Blakemore, renowned South African DJ, Das Kapital’s electro house remix being among the favourites.

Needless to say, it appears that Beatenberg is swiftly taking over the South African music scene, with their fresh, thoughtful sound. Having grown up in the Cape Town suburbs myself, it is exciting to see that hard work and genuine talent can pave the way to a successful career in the music industry, both locally and internationally. Although often compared to Vampire weekend and accurately identified as being influenced by Paul Simon’s fusion of genres, there is really nothing that sounds exactly like the beautifully emotive, rhythm-driven and proudly South African, Beatenberg.

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