Collection: BEINGS

On Beings’ There Is A Garden, shapeshifting melodies highlight each players’ voice. In one second, the album may sound hectic, teeming with craggy, unpredictable melodies, but by the time the next track rolls around, it’ll transform into a psychedelic reverie or blossom into a sprawling drone. For Beings, the New York City-based supergroup quartet of Zoh Amba, Steve Gunn, Shahzad Ismaily, and Jim White, the music flows naturally: It’s an ever-transforming organism built on the quartet’s openness and willingness to explore, together.    From the start, the quartet found a rare spark together.

Though There Is A Garden is their debut album, working on it felt like an innate journey drawn from their years in each other’s orbits. Ismaily describes it as alchemy: “The four of us really fell into something amalgamated that was really spiritually sound and really evocative, really environmental. And that doesn't always take place, even if the players individually have those qualities,” he says. “Everyone was able to find their space that was quite distinct from one another…and it really is part of why the group works so well.”  

Just before recording the album, Amba, Gunn and Ismaily joined each other in the studio. As a trio, they created wild, dynamic music and quickly bonded talking about songwriters they loved. After that session, White joined them, and they began recording at Circular Ruin in Brooklyn over just a couple of days (and with some overdubbing later on). Amba came to the session with a few ideas sketched out that the group riffed on; some of those ideas encouraged individuality, like “what you feel is you on the track.” No matter the prompt, each member of the ensemble recalls how open they were to each other, which led them to such open-minded music making. “I remember feeling like it was really beautiful to find our ways together,” Amba says. “I don't think anything about it was forced, everything was just kind of unraveling itself.”    

Gunn adds: “There wasn't a lot of pressure—it wasn't like we're this band and we're gonna make this record. It was more exploring what we could do, and seeing what was possible…and seeing where we could take it.”    

Though Beings is undeniably a group effort, each musician brings their own sensibility and distinctive voice to the music, which contributes to its fluidity and singularity. They explore a variety of styles: Tracks like “Flowers That Talk” take a more structured, songwriting approach to improvisation, while “God Dances In Your Eyes” morphs into a spun out drone and “Morning Sea” feels laid-back, like quiet at dawn. And on a smaller scale, in just one track, you might hear the bloom of Gunn’s guitar mix with Amba’s blown out saxophone, or Amba’s delicate voice weaving between White’s swarming rhythms. On “Happy To Be,” for example, the music begins with a fiery solo of Amba’s, foregrounding the passionate squeal of her saxophone, but grows into an amalgamation of the group—pulsing patterns meshed with hazy ambiance that seem to evolve and re-evolve with every breath.    

The quartet’s openness is the record’s mark. It even extends to the group’s name, Beings, which gestures towards existing as whatever you are; in their nature-centric song titles, there too is a sense of the organic. Throughout There Is A Garden, the four musicians are at the height of their craft and meshing their voices into one, yet their music never shies away from each artist’s own originality, and in fact, those unique voices forge its sprawling landscapes. In their own worlds, forged into one, they find freedom—to grow, to become, and to be.
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