Bye Beneco, a Johannesburg-based foursome of indie-folk instrumental manipulators, has just released their first full-length album “Space Elephant”, and to the first-time listener, it’s surprisingly fantastic for a group that has only been around for such a short space of time. Regular fans, however, will not be as surprised.
The album features 12 full tracks, 3 demo songs and 1 improvised track recorded live at home. Kicking off the album is the titular track, ’Space Elephant’, which, true to its name, is both spacey and earthy, with trippy elements coming through with the use of the band’s full arsenal of atypical instruments in the first few minutes. It also sets the tone for the rest of the album in spectacular fashion: easy to listen to on repeat.
My favourite track is ’Heed Yonder’ which has a clean sound, beautiful arrangement and meaningful flyrics, which are carried perfectly by vocalist Lenny Doucha. Lenny is backed by Jenny Dison, whose voice continues to haunt me. Those who have been following the band since their inception will recognise a few songs: ‘Overwhelm’, ‘On The Line’ and ‘Paraffin’ all off their 2013 demo and all of which they have touched up for this album.
Their new tracks bring fresh elements to their signature sound, which they play with through the use of unusual instruments like the xylophone, mouth harp, shakers and vox. They have also introduced a new aspect that I can only describe as natural into songs like ‘Chemirocha’ and ‘Witch Port’ with chanting, clapping and rhythmic drumming.
My only concern with the album is that some of the tracks might be a little too experimental, starting off strong, building into something beautiful and then ending in a flurry of instrumental clatter that, when all paired together, might be a little overwhelming for the listener.
That being said, this is a band that seems determined to be more of everything. They certainly don’t lack creativity or potential and they seem to love taking big risks, which, for a band at their beginning of their career, is a positive sign of things to come.