TO:29 – Scala “Beauty Nowhere”

CD – 8 tracks

Track list:

1. Naked (5:19)
2. Torn (4:33)
3. Hold Me Down (3:55)
4. Think In Japanese (4:54)
5. Something About Brigitte Neilsen (3:26)
6. Happy In Her Skin (3:16)
7. Ride Me (4:28)
8. Heart Of Glass (5:15)



“There’s nothing like a name change to stimulate the creative juices. With their original Seefeel incarnation on the backburner for the moment, founder members Sarah Peacock, Daren Seymour, and Justin Fletcher have hauled along their mate Mark Van Hoen (otherwise known as Locust), to regroup under the Scala moniker. And its clear, from the opening seconds of ‘Beauty Nowhere’ that it’s a case of renamed, rejuvenated. Starting from, in my opinion, where Seefeel should have begun when they locked claws with Warp, ‘Beauty Nowhere’ sees them weld industrial, dub, jungle and avant garde sounds to a lyrical style that is dark to say the least, creating an intense, claustrophobic whole which, although indebted to a myriad of musical forms, is still, to these ears at least, pretty damn unique. Opening track ‘Naked’ (sample lyric: “Feverish for you, losing it for you, seeings things for you, driven for you”…you get the picture?) piles on the gothic gloom, pitching soaring vocals over crunching drums and bass, and from there on in, every tune sculpts its own partricular form out of the bass constituents: ‘Torn’ builds itself up into a freestyle frenzy from a break that will have you checking your CD player for apparent damage: ‘Thinking in Japanese’ bubbles gently over a Gamelan-derived percussive structure: ‘Happy in her Skin’ exudes post-Nicolette breathy vocals and deeeep bass: ”Ride Me’ reverts between intimate torch songs and My Bloody Valentine guitar fuzz: and the industrial-tinged version of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’, underpinned with the kind of bass grunge that Jeff Mills would be proud of, exudes obsessive desire and salivating sassiness, and gives Deborah Harry and co’s original version a good run for its money. Only ‘Something About Brigitte Nielsen’ (contrary to what you might expect) is featureless, and is in stark contrast to the highlight here, the breathtakingly beautiful ‘Hold Me Down’, Peacock’s gossamer cooing reverberating through the mother of all echoes, and mixed into a veritable treasure chest of Stockhausian processing effects. ‘Beauty Nowhere’? Au contraire, au contraire.” [DJ 4 Minutes 33]


Produced between October 1994 and August 1995, these are the earliest recordings by Scala – formed by Justin Fletcher, Sarah Peacock and Daren Seymour of Seefeel, working with producer Mark Van Hoen, otherwise known as Locust. The results yield a very interesting and individual collaboration. ‘Naked’ is particular good, with the incongrously confident vulnerablity of the vocal. The stop-start introduction of ‘Torn’ is also good. ‘Happy in her Skin’ is particularly strong too, within an experimental, indie-pop style that comes close to Massive Attack, Red Snapper, Stereolab or Tricky. Personally I’d not be surprised to discover that Locust disguised a drum’n’bass track inside the grooves of ‘Think in Japanese’ because at 33 it’s just that little too lazy. A critically appealing and dramatic album that deserves commercial success because it will cross between genres if given opportunity. In keeping with Touch’s output the album is housed in a beautiful cover, featuring Yuri Gagarin the first man in space. [DKH]


“Beauty Nowhere is the first full-length record by Scala, aka three-fourths of the now-defunct group Seefeel. It’s a striking fusion of song form and abstract electronica, and it announces its intentions from the beginning of the first track, “Naked”, a twitchy sampled drone suddenly punctuated by driving, real drums and Sarah Peacock’s dazed, keening voice. Peacock sings on almost all of these eight tracks – sometimes full sets of lyrics (“Ride Me”), sometimes just fragments. On the stop/start “Torn”, which could be an exceptionally cool piece of video game music, the only words, endlessly repeated, are “Here comes attacker…”. At the other end of the disc, Peacock pulls off a splendid trick; an eerie, half-speed cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, sung over a one-note electronic churn. Elsewhere, the band essays a crisp, single-minded percussion piece (“Something About Brigitte Nielsen”), murky electro-sludge à la Tricky (“Happy in Her Skin”, which was “recorded on 4-track and acetate”) and more. No two tracks are alike: none are less that intriguing on their own, and most are fascinatingly original twists on the ropes of electronic music. [DOUGLAS WOLK]


“Three Seefeel members take a holiday from their alien, abstract electronica to bask in poppier climes. But the songs on the Lips & Heaven EP and the Beauty Nowhere LP (both Touch – [wrong! Lips & Heaven is on Too Pure – ed.]) are far from sugary chart fodder. Produced by former Seefeeler Mark Van Hoen (Locust), Scala’s music has a warped menace that makes guitars buzz like otherworldly insects. Sarah Peacock sings anti-torch songs about relationships in turmoil. Twistedly romantic, Scala’s dry-ice sonatas could score David Lynch’s 21st-century films.” [DS]