Gravegonzo: Soundscapes and ethereal comfort.
An interview with Sam Beahan of Peckham’s synthy-shoegaze, dream-pop band, Gravegonzo.
Quite how to condense the complex breadth of sound encompassed this debut into a brief and snappy introduction has proved itself to be rather difficult, but I have done my best to do it justice. The album in question is the 2021 release by spacey Peckham-based group Gravegonzo and is titled, for reasons that will become apparent if you have a listen to the interview, “Their Fantasy Mirrors”. For those of you who love a good concept album, enjoy staring out of bus windows in the rain while constructing escapist fantasies, or crave the all-encompassing feeling of freedom that comes with being in a dark room listening to ethereal beats, this one’s for you.
It begins with the most laid back track “Lurk Around” which has actually been part of Gravegonzo’s repertoire since back in 2017. All I can say is that listeners are totally lulled into a false sense of security, in the best way possible, as the follow up “Only a Miniature” begins in much the same way, spacey beats with the added accompaniment of a round of twinkly bells. However you are then hit mid song with a totally, for lack of a better word, hefty soundscape that wouldn’t be amiss in the climax of a dystopian film. To be entirely honest I’m having a hard time mustering the vocabulary to describe the actual sound produced on this album as you cannot discern what instruments were used in its totally intricate construction. More often than not the lyrics written by the band’s vocalist Sam Beahan are intertwined with the music itself, and become totally ethereal entities themselves.I think this is best displayed by the track which shares the same title as the album “Their Fantasy Mirrors”, or perhaps the albums third track “Cut Off”. Whenever these lyrics are sprinkled into the mix of soft n synthy beats, rather than explaining the track’s intentions verbally, they serve to provide another texture to the sound. Rather than explain the complex narrative of the characters created for this concept album, its lyrics serve to add another dimension to the depth of an already chasmic debut.
From my point of view the most intriguing element of this debut, aside from its cosmic soundscape, is the sheer amount of thought that went into every detail of its inception. To get a real feel for the energy behind this release I can only encourage you to take a trip to the band’s Spotify and have a listen to a playlist curated by the band’s songwriter, Sam Beahan.
It includes an absolute treasure trove of spooky, spacey, self-explorative bangers from 80s icons of spooky tunes The Cure, the poppy gorgeousness of Prince, as well as the softly trippy tunes of the Cocteau Twins. To be frank, as someone who loves a carefully curated capsule playlist, this was an absolute win for me. What’s more this playlist, if nothing else, gave me an alternative way to access the perspective of album as a whole. In much the same way as the gorgeously gothic visuals of the band’s Instagram give you an insight into the overall vibe their art inspires, this playlist provided an aural angle as to where influence was drawn from. Furthermore, and arguably more importantly, it is a beautiful explanation of how they took this sound, built on it, and ultimately shaped it into something intrinsically “Gravegonzo”.
All of this detail and care is physically visible in the vinyl release of “Their Fantasy Mirrors” pressed by the group’s label Airbag Records. This work is currently available in such iconic independent record stores as “Piccadilly Records” in Manchester and “Resident Records” in the bands’ hometown of Brighton. I would very much encourage you if you can’t get to either of these locations speedily to follow the link below and have a gander at this record. I mean the sleeve alone is enough to keep you transfixed. It only gets more intriguing when you learn the process behind each image, as Sam will very helpfully explain in the following interview, and all that is without mentioning the inspired inclusion of a little lyric zine by Robbie Hume. This inspired inclusion handily displays the poetry written into each track on “Their Fantasy Mirrors”, and means the carefully curated lyrical narrative is accessible to listeners who were perhaps to unable to decipher the distorted lines as they melt into the velvety walls of each track.
Scroll on for a deep dive into Gravegonzo narrated by my disembodied voice, very apt, as I chat to vocalist Sam Beahan about Prince, Victorian photography, and the overarching narrative behind their ethereal debut “Their Fantasy Mirrors”.