cross barriers in varied musical styles
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has become just as fragmented as our politics and culture. Open
a copy of Billboard magazine, and you'll discover that even the
tiniest genre is broken down into even smaller marketing niches.
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, who dazzled an enthusiastic crowd at
Real Art Ways' Hutensky Theater Saturday, helped break down many
of the artificial barriers that seperate rock, jazz, improvisational
and classical music. If Beethoven or Iggy Pop had been in the
house, they would have jumped on stage to jam.
bad boys of chamber music actually look a lot like middle-aged
college professors. They're smart enough to put music theory into
practice, breaking epic songs into tantalizing four- and five-minute
pieces, enough to whet the appetite of chamber music fans without
losing those with rock 'n' roll's short attention span.
with roots in the Boston punk scene, formed out of the ashes of
the legendary Mission
of Burma after band members started developing hearing problems,
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic also manage to puncture the pomposity
of high culture.
covered "Our Prayer," penned by the Beach Boys' Brian
Wilson, and even Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn" theme.
During the "Peter Gunn" theme, keyboardist Erik
Lindgren pounded so hard that the instrument's stand gave
way. Instead of a virtuoso's pout, Lindgren scowled for merely
a second, then kept playing with his feet. The band cut the songs
a little short after that, but managed to keep going without a
set, divided into two nearly equal halves, spanned the band's
entire 15-year career, and even several new songs from their forthcoming
10th album, "Dancing On A'A."
Each song explores an astounding range of rhythms and emotions.
"The Readymen's" windswept keyboards varied from eerie
and mysterious to celebratory, electronic music with a profoundly
human feel. Guitarist Michael Bierylo's
guitar squelched through "Beat of the Mesozoic - part one",
while Ken Field's saxophone punctuated the
beat with brief melodic bursts.
Field's sax that tugs the band toward the
avant garde and earned them the experimental label. He was at
his best during songs like "Birdgam" and "Pleasure
Island," twisting and contorting quickly and sharply blown
notes into interesting new shapes. In many ways, what he does
is the equivalent of the rock guitarists from bands like My Bloody
Valentine and Sonic Youth, who create new tones and textures out
of oddly tuned guitars.
band's polyrhythmic percussion stands out as well; they seem capable
of making music out of anything. All four members played drums
or other percussive instruments in the middle of "Beat of
the Mesozoic." Keyboardist Lindgren
was a delight to watch. He pounded a complex rhythm just with
hand-claps, usually a symbol of pop music simplicity, then twisted
his hands over a theremin to add more high-pitched noises.