Magnified by Beatrix PlayersRelease date: March 31, 2017
Label: Ardent Music
While I admire the big names of the Progressive Rock genre, I always try to show support for the little guy. Whether it’s The Knells, Schooltree, Kaprekar’s Constant, Goldray, and Bent Knee to name a few, the up-and-comers are the ones I always show my support to. No matter what. And there’s soon going to be one other that is about to be added to my list and that is Beatrix Players. Since winning this year’s Limelight award at the Progressive Music Awards, this all-female London based trio take the essence of Chamber Pop, Classical, and Folk into one.
Since their formation in 2013, I first became aware of the Beatrix Players in an issue of PROG Magazine and I always wanted to discover their music and listened to one of their samples on their bandcamp site, and I was spellbound. Like a mixture of a movie inside your head, Beatrix Players take you beyond the screen and watch what is happening right in front of your eyes.
Taken their name from the Latin term, “Viatrix” which is a name in various forms that has been previously bestowed on self-sacrifice and self-denying mystics, royal consorts, and Balzac heroines and tarnation assassins. The trio considers Amanda Alvarez on Cello; Jess Kennedy on Piano and backing vocals, and Amy Birks on Lead and Backing Vocals. The three of them came from Madrid, Melbourne, and Staffordshire.
They originally released their self-titled EP with five tracks back three years ago entitled Words in Lemon Juice. This year, they’ve released their debut album entitled Magnified. Let me just say that again, this is a romantic, emotional, yet touching debuts that’s landed on my lap. The trio brought something special on Magnified. These are stories that will make you think at times of a short-operatic musical that will open your eyes to show what they’ve been up to.
You have the opener ‘Rushlight’ that starts off with a sombering piano melody as Amy’s vocals make you feel that someone has tugged your head as the lyrics and characterizations show what is happening. Amy’s vocalizations along with Jess and Amanda are not just brilliant, but staggering in the chorus. They blend very well together as they go through the candles burning brighter and fading away as the last spark blows away into the night time sky.
‘Lady of the Lake’ begins with a chilling vocalization intro. You can feel her spirit as she’s describing to her companion of what they’ve done to her by using her, worshipping her, and falling in love for the wrong reasons. While its sets during the Arthurian background, the last part of the section is intense from the strings and piano and knowing there will be someone to take the sword and follow the battle, knowing that it will be a huge challenge.
‘Never Again’ is based on the Bronte Sisters and the strength of the classic novels that they wrote including Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. You can close your eyes and imagine yourself with the composition being in the 19th century in the village of Haworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire and knowing that these novels will be classics one day.
The music has this haunting folky-sque surrounding at times, but different. ‘Not for the First Time’ I can imagine the Beatrix Players writing this song almost based on the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. The song and music make you feel that you are in this place, new city, and the struggle to survive, will be a long way.
It deals with being alone in a new location that you’ve never seen before and being afraid, angry, and never getting a chance to hear familiar cry of your friends as you wish they were here to protect you while ‘High Heel Shoes’ is in a ballad in the signature of 3/4. It’s a jazz-classical melody that took me by surprise. It’s part Vince Guaraldi, part orchestral at the same time.
Then we get to the songs ‘Walk Away’ and ‘Obey Me’. In these two songs, Beatrix Players touch on the subject of emotional abuse. Now this is a difficult subject for them to tackle in the two pieces that’s on Magnified, but it is opening your eyes on what is going on and learning at times to stand up yourself. You can imagine this character being controlled and hurt by this man controlling her and knowing that she will do exactly what he wants.
But after being abused, they have to decide they can’t take it anymore and making the decision to run away and never coming back after what he’s done to her from neglect, control, and abuse. The music is at times intense and thanks to Robyn Hemmings that creates the ballad on the eighth track for a few sections on the double bass, the person moves away from the monster and while she is free from it all, it will haunt her until her dying days.
The moment I put the album on my portable CD player, I wasn’t just blown away on how amazing their debut album was, but how much work and accomplishment Beatrix Players brought to the process and teamwork they’ve taken. The trio have done something special here, bringing images and storytelling compositions into one. I hope one day, they will continue to do more with new brainstorming ideas they will have for the years and years to come.