The dual classical and modern elements of production and composition duo Beatnik Neon’s work are so well-integrated that it’s difficult to discern just how each of their tracks are actually produced and composed. At times it seems tracks like “Light Processing” featuring vocalist Bel Ronin of their latest EP Interstice are working off a classical-style score, while other recent works sound like “Blissfall,” released earlier this year, lands more in the EDM/bass music composition wheelhouse. Still others follow more rock/pop structure.
It’s quite rare for an artist to have theory nerds baffled in such a way, but with Beatnik Neon’s creedo of making music without limits, it seems that’s what they’re going for. They just also happen to be talented enough to pull it off. With very little background information to go on other than their actual tracks, one can really only go on sound design and their own minimal thoughts about the project:
Beatnik Neon was unintentionally created with sonic freedom. We love big drums, heavy clean bass and synth with roots from classical instrumentation and a final touch given by one of our vocal contributors make Beatnik Neon an ever evolving project with no limits.
So to that end, the sound design coming from the duo, comprised of Nolan Farmer and Yann Marc, is pretty much flawless. The ambient work here is easily experimental/drum & bass quality (though not tempo), while the afore-mentioned “big drums, heavy, clean bass and synth” which has become a staple in Beatnik Neon’s sound is also top quality, both technically and in the emotions they connote. It’s clear that the duo make their own sounds as well, because once again the line are blurred in terms of technique: it’s impossible to tell what’s digitally manufactured and what’s analog, especially when it comes to the drums.
The classical elements blended into all the sound design and electronic base are done so seamlessly that is also speaks to Farmer and Marc’s production abilities once again, but what we can also glean is someone in that duo is also classically trained, if not both. Whether some of the string elements in tracks like the industrial/movie score-inspired “New Dawn” featuring Germaine LeFevre or the guitar in the halftime “Calm” featuring Luna Bands or “Numb” featuring Vivian Moon are analog or digital is once again a mystery due to the sound design around them, but they are nonetheless beautifully composed. Paired with the skilled piano playing and operatic vocals from LeFevre, it’s clear someone knows their stuff.
Speaking of vocals, almost all of Beatnik Neon’s tracks have a vocal collaboration , and said collaborators are almost as varied as the skills and techniques contained in the music. From Bel Ronin’s eerie, sharp timbre in multiple tracks to Bands’s more pop style in “Calm” to another classically trained, albeit more musical-inspired vocal set from Christine Nicole in the duo’s 2020 album Yorself, Beatnik Neon don’t just use their vocalists for accompaniment. They all lend their own style and tones to each track and contribute to that genre-bending diversity Nolan and Marc feel are integral to this project.
If all that weren’t enough, there’s a strong visual element to much of Beatnik Neon’s work, and it seems to be getting stronger. Their track art is laced with the same elements of dark, mildly industrial elements with imagery of the highest quality. Their track teasers and newer music videos on YouTube also have breathtaking cinematic quality and tell the stories of these songs in a way that makes one wonder if this duo missed their calling as score composers for films.
Hardly technically “new,” Beatnik Neon is a project that really should have been much more recognized for their incredible work lo these past five years, since they first released their debut EP, Atramentous Part I: In Darkness Reeling in 2016. Now with even more of a solid sound design, production and compositional base and literal Tsuruda-or even-Alix Perez-level quality, here’s hoping Beatnik Neon catch on in all the genres they so masterfully blend into their work.
The Interstice EP is out now and available to stream on Spotify or to purchase on Bandcamp along with the rest of Beatnik Neon’s discography. Check out their chilling music videos and visualizers on their YouTube channel.