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|Electric Bird Noise
MP3 EP 2014 | Silber 170
4 tracks, 14 minutes
~ Beach Sloth
Discordant guitar ambient for being trapped in an elevator while trying to escape a Christmas party.
: Press Release
: Digital Booklet
: Prefer to listen on Bandcamp?
Remarkably creepy Electric Bird Noise explore the shadows on “Birth”. Everything about it is covered in darkness. Lonely guitars make up most of the collection. For the remainder there are elements of other ghostly presences. Sounds linger far longer than what seems natural giving the songs a strange haunted aura. By staying dedicated to this approach Electric Bird Noise ensures that they do not lose focus of the mood they have created.
A select few guitar plucks begins the eerie “Evlewt”. From this work a melody emerge fragile and cryptic. With the progression of time smaller gestures enter into the equation, a bass rumble, other guitars, and working together to transform the sound into a web of sorts. Each additional repetition makes the song feel that much closer to a revelation. Playing with the idea of a sudden explosion of sound the tension of the work becomes almost unbearable. The release comes with the hectic rush of “Neetriht” whose surreal elements repeat until they become incredibly overwhelming. Returning to quieter pastures is the contemplative work of “Neetruof”. Letting the bass rumble throughout helps the song take on an uncomfortable sound and lets it drive the song forward until a sudden stop. By far the best track on the collection is the alien transmission of “Neetfif”. Beginning with small shrieks across the soundscape the piece increases in size and density until falling into a noisy drone for the finale.
Impossible to fully understand Electric Bird Noise rule over dark lands on “Birth”.
~ Beach Sloth
Sparse, peculiar, hypnotic...all of these adjectives (and more) could be used to described this music. Birth is a short album, presenting four mind altering instrumentals that may very well make you feel as if you are having a very strange dream. For those who haven't yet been exposed, Electric Bird Noise is the one man recording project invented by Brian Lea McKenzie. Using this moniker McKenzie continues to write and record exceedingly esoteric music. These four pieces stream along exceedingly nicely from one to the next, using similar sounds combined and prepared in different ways. Gotta love the song titles...numbers spelled backwards ("Evlewt," "Neetriht," "Neetruof," "Neetfif"). We're big fans of Electric Bird Noise. Love the simple scribbly cover art on this one. This is a band that never fails to entertain in its own unique way. Top pick.
The US project ELECTRIC BIRD NOISE is the long ongoing creative vehicle of composer and musician Brian Lea McKenzie, who for 20 odd years has defied genre conventions and any amount of predictable features and approaches to the music he creates. The EP "Birth" dates back to December 2014, and was released by the US label Silber Records. On the four tracks featured on this production, the opening three all concentrate on one specific approach: plucked guitar details focusing on odd and unusual tonal choices, echoes and reverbs to create eerie, dark and haunting soundscapes, contrasting the relatively fragile plucked instrument details with occasional firmer, harder edged sounds and effects. The end result is some sort of nightmarish, psychedelic landscape with a subtle avant-garde orientation, the subtlest musical score of your creepiest nightmares given life, if you like. The concluding track explores a similar landscape, but now by the use of surging sounds, effects and drones, developing from a dark, unnerving opening phase to a light-toned, shrill and bleak atmosphere, giving way to associations of desolate, barren alien landscapes. If the idiom “minimalist creations with slight bows towards psychedelic and avant-garde music” sounds like a good thing to you, and you have a tendency to enjoy music that comes with a high degree of a lurking fear factor incorporated, then this EP is one that merits a check. This is not progressive rock, but music and soundscapes that should intrigue first and foremost those with an affection for experimental electronic ventures.
~ Olav "Progmessor" Bjornsen, Progressor
Having released their debut album back in 1999, Electric Bird Noise (project of one Brian Lea McKenzie) appears to have run the gamut of experimental sound and music since that time, making everything from minimalist post-rock to more melodic synthesizer music and prog. The group’s contribution to the Silber Record Label’s lineup of 2014 Christmas releases instantly seems more obviously experimental and jarring than the more drone-inclined Baptizer release which I covered yesterday. Made up of rather barren, oddly-named tracks constructed almost exclusively of echoed, lonely guitar motifs layered on top of one another, the Birth EP contains dissonant and unconventional melodic structuring that seems tailor-made for use in esoteric cinema. It was soundtrack material like this after all that made movies like 1975’s Bug (with music by Charles Fox) memorably odd, but I might be inclined to say that in terms of mood and the warbling, almost theremin-like quality of EBN’s work here, Birth sounds more reminiscent of the slightly demented collection of library music heard during the seminal Night of the Living Dead.
Built around a clean but unsettling guitar theme, first track “Evlewt” gradually piles on additional parts that start to clash with one another in alarming ways by about the ninety second mark. At times, the piece sounds like little more than someone slamming a keyboard, but the relentless forward momentum prevents it from stagnating. The point of a piece like this seems to be to point out how even simple pieces of music can create mood and even creep out a listener: by the end, this piece is downright disturbing and borderline uncomfortable to listen to as it starts to become overrun with howling, reverberant tones. Second track “Neetrith” is only half the length of the opener and operates in much the same way, compiling another ever-expanding bunch of short themes into a dense sonic composition. The brevity of the track means that this one has to cut to the chase sooner, the ghostly chords heard initially quickly being enveloped by more resonant and piercing high tones and percussive accented chords.
Subsequent track “Neetruof” makes a transition from being more light and airy in its early stages to being positively leaden by its conclusion. Thunderous, growling low tones bellow out of the mix as the track goes along, attempting to bury the warbling guitar that stand as the track’s central element. Like the others here, this track carries on for a certain amount of time and then abruptly ends; the piece doesn’t seem to be heading towards any specific destination as it were and also doesn’t feature any sort of honest conclusion. Birth’s final track is the spacey “Neetfif,” which has more a sense of openness to it when compared to the more constrained and almost claustrophobic sound of the earlier pieces. A whining and sputtering repeated guitar melody swirls around in the compositional scheme of this track, occasionally showing up as if to suggest a comet gliding by while alternately screeching, twinkling, and groaning guitar parts feature more noticeably in the mix. I’d say this is probably the track most listeners would gravitate towards since it’s somewhat more familiar sonic territory, but it’s another track which appears to be designed to instill a sense of paranoia and/or worry in a listener.
Having heard two of Silber’s 2014 Christmas EPs now, I think it’s safe to say that the bulk of these releeases would at best be an acquired taste. For me, Birth seems a bit more tenuous in its ties to the holiday season than did Baptizer’s Nativity, and would seem to many like little more than a jumbled mess of sound - though that tendency doesn’t stop it from being interesting and maybe even impressive from a conceptual standpoint. Odd to a level that many listeners simply won’t tolerate though never quite becoming genuinely abrasive, Birth clearly falls into the sound art category since it’s very obviously not at all concerned with the development of melodies or song-like structures. The experimental music crowd would find this (and the other releases in the series) to be exciting, and I’d say it would best be appreciated by those interested in the way minimalistic “music” and sound can be used to instill mood or even create an emotional response in listeners.
~ Andy Armageddon, Bandjack