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Line (86), Cloud Chorus (87)
US Guitarist that produced two albums in the mid-80's: Life Line
and Cloud Chorus. Both are relatively low key projects featuring
acoustic and processed electric, with guest musicians on other
instruments. Very nice, very spacey, but the second one tends
to get a little new-agey. Still not bad, tho.
First off, I must say that aside from The
Fossil Record, I have not heard any of their other studio
material. I have, however, seen them live a few times in the past
year or two. The Fossil Record
is a collection of studio material from the "early years" of Birdsongs
that didn't find its way onto any of their albums. How does it
compare to the rest of their work? Well, judging from their recent
live performances, I would say they have matured quite a bit as
composers, and their sound has also grown much fuller. Birdsongs
play a unique, quirky mixture of minimalism, 20th century "classical,"
and prog. One can hear strains of Steve Reich, Stravinsky, Satie,
Louis Andriessen, and Univers Zero running through their pieces,
and they are not afraid to use a little musical humor on occasion.
The music on this CD, however, betrays their influences as well
as their "formula" a bit more than the material I've seen them
perform live. Most of their pieces develop by taking a theme,
usually melodic, and rhythmically and harmonically fragmenting
and mutating it. This deconstruction works beautifully at times,
but as with other musical "processes," the process can sometimes
overshadow the music. I saw them perform a piece which was announced
as a cover of a song off of The Yes Album, the challenge being
to figure out which one. Though I am quite familiar with The Yes
Album, I still couldn't figure out what song they were deconstructing.
It didn't matter. The music stood on its own, apart from the clever
process. Some of the pieces on The
Fossil Record work as well as that one did, while there
are others that don't. There are about 15 tracks filling up more
than 70 minutes on the CD. The last track is a 23 minute piece
called "To a Random"; a *very* sparse and atmospheric piece written
to accompany a film of the same name. The rest of the songs are
mostly in the 3-6 minute range. I am eager to hear some of their
newer studio material, and I imagine albums like Faultline
are probably in fact a better place to start for those new to
Birdsongs. Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile compilation that
will definately be of interest to fans of Birdsongs. And no matter
what your tastes in prog are, don't miss these guys live if you
get a chance to see them!
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic are one of those unclassifyable groups.
I have two of their albums Sonic
Geology and Faultline.
SG is a compilation of their first three albums, with two bonus
tracks. This is the one I would recommend people to start with.
Their music is a mixed bag of punk, post-punk, progressive, avant-guard,
and classical (there are probably several other styles thrown
in for good measure). Their music is pretty much all electronic
(I believe they had three keyboardists at one point).