Beautify Junkyards: ‘Cosmorama’ reviewed

❉  “Everything is intensified. I’ll see wild moving colourful patterns.”

Out in January on Jim Jupp’s and Julian House’s Ghost Box label, Cosmorama is the fourth album by Beautify Junkyards and the follow up to the impressive The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards. It takes us once more into their weird and wonderful Universe.

Lisbon-based collective Beautify Junkyards are essentially made up of members João Branco Kyron (vocals and keyboards) João Moreira  (acoustic guitar and synth) Helena Espvall (cello, flute and electric guitar)  Sergue Ra (bass)  and Antonio Watts (drums and percussion). New member Martinez on vocals and a collection of guests create the further vocal layers and instrumentation.

The opening track Dupla Exposição (rough translation “double exposure”) takes us straight into their world. Flutes, mellotrons, repetitive bass and drum beat, expressive electronic noises and overlapping and harmonic male and female voices. Reverie carries on with fragmented English lyrics (“Rainy letters…. something better”) layered over a tomorrow never knows drumbeat. The Sphinx follows with more psyche. Beautiful female vocals reminiscent of Vashti Bunyan or the late Trish Keenan over jumpy distorted guitars and riddling lyrics “Teach me how to find. Colours in the shadow.”

With Parangolé things really start to get strange. With the title seemingly referring to the fabric conceptual art piece by Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica or the meaning “animated situation/ sudden confusion” this track could be something from Jonny Trunk’s Fuzzy Felt Folk compilation. It’s like a mad 70’s primary school performance with repetitive wood block percussion and acoustic instrumental layering. Astonishing stuff.

A Garden by the Sea is a magnificent track with woodwind and harp and a beautiful chorus. It takes us to a world that’s hard to identify in time or place. We are not sure whether we are on the edge of a Brazilian forest or by a pastoral English riverbank – Electric Eden folk or exotic Tropicália?

The tracks that follow carry us through this world. The interlinking voices and the various layered instruments mean the album reveals new things to us on repeated listens. Tropical birdsong, sampled voices, hints of library sounds and fractured lyrics. You’re reminded of things like the Italian Psycheground group or Heron/Williamson. You also find yourself listening for fragmented English phrases within the Portuguese lyrics which are a weird poetry (“secrets. spaces between the words” “pinball wizard”)

The final track The Fountain with its Robert Kirby style instrumentation ends with a sample of a female voice seemingly on a Lysergic Acid trip.  “Everything is intensified. I’ll see wild moving colourful patterns.” A similar experience to listening to this album. One I can relisten to again and again. 

❉Beautify Junkyards: Cosmorama (Ghost Box Records GBX036) due for release on 15th January 2021, CD/DL/LP. Ghost Box: Facebook Twitter Instagram Spotify Soundcloud

❉ James Collingwood lives in West Yorkshire and currently contributes to the Bradford Review where he has interviewed Kay Mellor, George Layton, Tim Booth and Jeremy Dyson among many others. HisTwitter is @JamesCollingwo1

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