Birdsongs of the Mesozoic
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The Evolution of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic (1980-1987)
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In the summer of 1980, Mission of Burma's Roger Miller and local composer/producer Erik Lindgren recorded two of Roger's piano compositions at Erik's Sounds Interesting studio in Cambridge, M.A. Burma's Martin Swope assisted on one piece by adding guitar.

In the spring of 1981, Pulse Piece was released on a local compilation LP A Wicked Good Time - Volume 1 (Modern Method 268). They agreed to play three songs for the Modern Method benefit show and added Rick Scott on Farfisa organ. The quartet played out three more times that year in between Mission of Burma's busy touring schedule. In August, the band began recording material for a five-song EP on the Boston-based Ace of Hearts label.

New material that included excerpts from "The Rite Of Spring" and the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" theme was brought into the repertoire during the spring of 1982. Birdsongs' two live performances that year included shows with the Dirutti Column and Burma. They continued to work on their first record.

With the demise of Mission of Burma in March of 1983, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic became a fully-realized performing ensemble with each member contributing original compositions. In June, EP (Ace of Hearts 1008) was released and picked up momentum that fall with favorable reviews and positive airplay. It received attention on diverse radio programs ranging from rock to new wave to jazz to experimental to electronic music across the country. In support of the disc, the group collaborated with Mark Diamond and produced music videos for Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Sound Valentine. Along with receiving local airplay, these were picked up by Rock America distributors and added to their April 1984 reels which were shown in clubs throughout the United States.

On Halloween, the group began recording a full-length LP for Ace of Hearts. They had only fifteen performances that year but secured a strong local following in Boston by playing such eclectic places as the Rat (opening for The Fall), Boston Film/Video Foundation, Mass Art "Eventworks" series, and the Institute of Contemporary Art. A very successful New York performance at Danceteria with Psychic TV resulted in a favorable article by Jon Pareles in the NY Times. A recording of Brian Eno's Sombre Reptiles came out on a local compilation album (Art Arf 009).

In the first half of 1984, accelerated activity included opening dates for Echo and the Bunnymen at the Channel, Siouxsie and the Banshees at the Orpheum, and an evening of music at the Boston Shakespeare Theatre. Their second trip to New York City drew picks in the NY Times, Village Voice and New York Post. In July, their album Magnetic Flip (Ace of Hearts 10018) came out and received airplay on over 150 stations.

To support the new album, the band set out on a very successful ten date Midwestern tour that brought them as far west as Minneapolis. Highlights were two shows in Illinois with Fred Frith and Tom Cora. A short jaunt to New York and Washington DC (co-headlining with pianist Ran Blake) was also well-received. Ptoccata from Magnetic Flip was used as an opening musical sequence for a PBS NOVA documentary. A November date at the Marlboro (MA) Public Library proved most entertaining for all involved. Birdsongs continued to maintain a balance between rock clubs and art-circuit performance spaces. In January, 1985, they played to a sellout crowd at New York's prestigious Kitchen, which was a pick in both the Times and Voice. In March, Ace of Hearts booked time at Le Studio in Montreal to record their third record.

That April, Birdsongs set out on a nine date tour of the south that included shows in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. Contrary to what some individuals feared, the reception was very good with a sincere appreciation for the band's uniqueness. In May, they played a successful show with Einsturzende Neubauten at the Channel in Boston.

While working on overdubs and the mixing of ther new five-song EP, they continued to perform locally and throughout the northeast. In November, they performed 4 shows with the Lounge Lizards at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge. By the end of the year, the new record was completed and their position as a performing ensemble was strong.

In April 1986, Birdsongs hosted a party at Boston's Paradise Club in anticipation of Beat Of The Mesozoic (Ace of Hearts 1018) which was officially released in June. Throughout the summer and fall, it received airplay on over 150 stations. In September, they set out on a mini-tour throughout the mid-Atlantic states. Then in December, they accomplished another successful ten date tour of the south. The group ended the year by playing at Portland, Maine's "First Night" celebration.

In April, 1987, Birdsongs set out on an extensive fourteen date "Beat of the Spring" tour throughout the Midwest. Also that spring, they recorded an original score to Michael Burlingame's surrealistic film To A Random that was released on an album Soundtracks (Arf Arf 020). Footage of that film was re-edited to "Lost In The B-Zone" and appeared on MTV's 120 Minutes program. In June 1987, the group was included on the Massachusetts State Touring Roster. That summer, they headlined at CBGB's in New York City as part of New Music Seminar #8 along with sharing the bill with They Might Be Giants at the Main Arts Festival. On September 25, the group had it's final performance with Roger Miller at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. This event included a guest appearance by saxophonist Steve Adams, who would be Roger's future replacement for the next year.

In the spring of 1988, Rykodisc issued Sonic Geology (Ryko 20073), an 18-track compilation CD which includes most of their Ace of Hearts material plus 2 unreleased compositions that were mixed in August, 1987 with Bob Winsor at Normandy Sound.

The Fossil RecordSince then, Birdsongs has continued to grow, record, and tour extensively while releasing two critically acclaimed compact discs for the Washington, DC-based Cuneiform label, 1989's Faultline (Rune 19) and 1992's Pyroclastics (Rune 35). In 1988, Ken Field took over for Steve Adams, who relocated to join San Francisco's ROVA saxophone quartet. In addition, Michael Bierylo replaced guitarist Martin Swope, who moved to Hawaii in 1991.

The Fossil Record is a collection of unreleased and obscure recordings that were made during the ensemble's first phase of creativity from 1980 to 1987. Throughout personnel changes and different instrumental line-ups, Birdsongs has continued to bridge the gap where "cacophony meets classicism in a mesmerizing instrumental venture into the space age jungle" (Billboard).

Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic

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