The Beta Band
earned heaps of critical praise with an opening salvo of three EPs, all released on Regal
and leading up to the release of their acclaimed debut album, 1999's The Beta Band. (Their fame only grew after they were name-dropped in the film High Fidelity by John Cusack, whose character claimed -- and then proved -- that he could immediately sell five copies of their EP collection, The Three E.P.'s, simply by playing one track.) The follow-up, Hot Shots II, earned greater praise, although shortly after their third release, 2004's Heroes to Zeros, the band announced their breakup.
Mason had already debuted a solo project, King Biscuit Time
, late in 1998, and during the 18 months that followed the Beta Band'
s breakup, he released a pair of King Biscuit
singles -- including "C I AM 15," which reached number 67 on the British charts -- and a full album, 2006's Black Gold. One year later, he launched an electronica project called Black Affair
, and a techno-influenced LP titled Pleasure Pressure Point appeared on V2
in 2008. He subsequently returned to a Beta Band
format for his first album under his own name, a late-2009 single titled "All Come Down." The expected full-length album, Boys Outside, with production help from Richard X
, appeared in 2010 on Double Six
, distributed by Domino
. Provided with polished production, Steve Mason's poignant songwriting and powerful vocals were brought to the fore. The album was then given a dub reworking by Mason and Dennis Bovell
. Ghosts Outside displayed the singer/songwriter's effortless ability to span genres successfully, while remixing the likes of Django Django
showed Mason's hunger for creativity was not slowing down. In early 2013, his third album under his own name arrived. Among its sprawling 20 tracks, Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time explored depression, politics, and human nature, bringing together many genres to create a mesmerizing experience. ~ John Bush, Rovi