The Bateleur eagle is a ubiquitous traveler above African skies. Its name is French for street performer, referring to how its wings bob and glide like a tight-rope walker as it stalks its prey. Like their animal namesake, Cape Town experimental collective enjoy the high places. Their newly released “first and final” full length self-titled album was both recorded in “mountainous hideouts’ and was initially made available via an installation placed on Table Mountain! Dubbed ‘The Nest’, it allowed intrepid fans to download the album for free by following directions to a USB port buried into a rock on one of the mountain’s lookouts. It included the unusual instructions of reminding potential listeners to not overstep the ledge.
Unfortunately, the project was mysteriously vandalized, but the full release is now available for less physically adventurous listeners. Titles like ‘Mendota Sky’, ‘Blossom/Unfold’ and ‘Seaverb’ hint at the pleasantly elegiac sensation created throughout. The group’s six members function work as a pocket orchestra, bridging post-rock, math sharpness and jazz together. The eight compositions cast their spell like watching a warm summer sunset hazily settling in over a mountain.
Promoted as their final album, the release and its promotion bring things full circle for the band. Their debut 2010 EP was called Mountain, establishing their naturally focused and experimental project. They subsequently dropped Cargo Cults, which included the addictive ‘I’m Further Away Than I Usually Am’. This was paralleled with a remix EP, with artists like Christian Tiger School reinterpreting their songs. The latest album is the product of three years of recording, and honing their stagecraft on tours around Southern Africa. It’s also accompanied by a short film for ‘Mendota Sky’, a work which suggests at darker themes in their work . But for the most part, Bateleur has built up a sonic collage to get happily lost in.