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|The Silber Sessions
CD Album 2011 | Silber 095
13 tracks, 31 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (320 kbps, ~66 megs))
Listen to the track Morning Mother Mourning Dove
Collecting together compilation appearances and various other rarities from the last ten years, EBN’s music is seriously delightful.
~ Satellite for Entropy
Generally, Electric Bird Noise has been the solo project of one Brian Lea McKenzie (also active with Something About Vampires And Sluts, Dead Cut Tree, and Vlor, to name but a few – the latter is also a Silber band, by the way), whom started the project back in 1997 doing cinematic guitarscapes while breaking ground in the burgeoning Post Rock and Darkwave scenes of the era.
Live shows saw a band with walls of smoke, light and guitar, securing EBN a place among the South's best Part Rock party bands. Over the years McKenzie regularly contributed tracks to Silber Records compilations, and also became a regular touring partner of Remora. Incorporating different styles and musical experiments over the years, he also had his musical focus in EBN shift somewhat, but in the end (and even from the beginning) what mattered to McKenzie was the possibility to convey the fact of having fun with music, both as a musician and as a listener! In spite of a possible basis of darkness and seriousness, his music is overall playful...and mostly instrumental as well!
The Silber Sessions compiles EBN's various compilation appearances and several rarities from the past 10 years. You'll find the first four tracks on the album being geared towards cinematic and reverbed guitar stuff (must've done well among Surf music lovers), but then you come across the eerie “Six Ligertilys For Elena”, which is rather a meandering Ambient basis with great guitar thrown in, and a female singer-in-reverse (really, sounds like her vocals were played backwards on the track), after which enter a couple of even calmer tracks with “Christmas For Reilly” (partially acoustic) and “Morning Mother Mourning Dove” (completely acoustic, played with banjo and mandolin). Then comes McKenzie's flirtation with electronics, or rather the added keyboards/ synths (and drums!) in “Moments Like Last Night Make Me Wanna Believe In Ghosts”, but “February 23rd“ and “Cubism” see him return to a simpler and calmer one-guitar-with-some-occasional-echo moments. Then, sounds like the ominous “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” was done with synths...but it may have been guitar with wacky effects, people. Closure of the album is done with the weird and slow, piano-and-static (and therefore somewhat Dark) “Fall Of the World Trade Center”.
A very diverse album indeed, but one which kept this seasoned reviewer tied to his chair (actually, it was the sofa...and I was reading a book at the time, but nevertheless, you know...) throughout the first 4 listening sessions I gave it. Granted, at only 31 minutes per session, the listener is kept wanting...and I sincerely hope I may come across more of this artist's past or future works pretty soon! “Best Album Of 2011”-list material here, people! You'll find a coupe of tracks to listen to on the artist's page at the label's website.
~ Concrete Web
The promo sticker informs us that Electric Bird Noise's The Silber Sessions should be placed in with Brian Eno, Aarktika, Lycia, and Popul Vuh, and I can't argue with that, though I'd include Durutti Column, Moebius, Aphex Twin, and an ambientalized Ennio Morricone alongside. The initial two cuts are glitched truncations before Proti Village-Meteroa-Odeon of Herodes Atticus and Onward! (Too) roll through the speakers, exercises in hopped-up pastorality and obliquely skewed landscapes. Six Ligertilys for Elena then interjects mellowed-out surf music from the shores of Venus, elegant but not archaic, more the rescue of times past looking to find themselves re-awakened to the memory of transgalactic meanderings.
More than once, the listener is going to think about art-house movies in a Lynchian vein or of a West Coast Pleasantville discovering opium and mescaline. 'Hypnotic' would not be too strong a term for Brian's Theme with its tranquilized vitality, one of the Popul Vuh cuts married to SFF and a relaxed Mike Oldfield. In Moments like Last Night make Me Wanna Believe in Ghosts, the CD contains an element of cerebral B-52s cut with moodily depressive Devo and a mid-section that's clever as hell, seeming to be a skip-hold in your player's laser reading, but actually, when you listen closely, a segment a la Steve Reich and his 18 Musicians phasing.
Brian Lea McKenzie (instruments, objects, loop machines, etc.) is the key figure here, and he's been doing his homework, even to the degree of catching odd tangs of Perry Kingsley and the elder electronic experimenteers and odd-pop composers. Silber Sessions is eccentric and futurist, not to mention surreal, but quite approachable if you've sufficient erudition to understand the wealth of styles, modes, and genres being blenderized, resulting in sometimes psycho-emotionally chilling (Cubism) and even intelligent camp modified through a hookah shared with a stoned Wendy Carlos. Oddly, the CD is a compilation of cuts gathered over a 10 year period from various anthology and live appearances, but it sure as hell hangs together like a segmented concept cycle planned for months before entering a studio.
~ Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Despite dozens of appearances with Silber’s acts on compilation albums and live shows, this is officially the very first album released on Silber by Brian McKenzie’s experimental post rock outfit, filtering ten years worth of output into thirteen choice cuts of instrumental madness.
With two minuscule tracks as openers it is ‘Proti Village- Meteora-Odeon of Herodes Atticus’ that really begins the album proper, mixing barking dogs, bells and guitar instrumentation to create a unique musical experiment that is both amusing and off kilter in equal measure.
‘Onward! (Too)’ is more a straightforward instrumental post rock affair, with powerful and emotive crescendos that any fan of the genre will recognise and appreciate despite its somewhat cookie cutter approach.
‘Six Ligertilly’s for Elena’ & ‘Christmas with Reilly’ change proceedings yet again, this time channelling dream pop/shoe gaze sounds that create a tranquil and defined piece and help highlight McKenzie’s chameleon-like abilities through his different genres and styles on show here in what essentially acts as a Silber retrospective. ‘Brian’s Theme’ follows in good stead with the theme of tranquillity and good will from previous tracks though from a more organic, acoustic standpoint.
Leaving the fuzzy warm feelings as quickly as they arrived, ‘February 23rd’ provides warping guitar sounds that will loop around the listener in a disquieting fashion, while ‘Fall of the World Trade Centre’ in name alone comes through as a sombre affair and lastly, ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’ is just pure Lycnhain gold in its distorted synth laden rendition of the crimbo jingle.
If you’re new to Electric Bird Noise, this is as great a place to start as any while for those already familiar with McKenzie’s outfit, ‘The Silber Sessions’ will free up valuable time that may have otherwise been spent on Indiana Jones style quests collating these odds and sods from various sources. For that also, this release deserves praise.
~ Michael Byrne, Left Hip
Packaged like an almost stereotypically hip jazz album from the 1950s and packing in looped rooster calls, Christmas songs, and an album ender called "Fall of the World Trade Center," the collection of compilation appearances and rarities that makes up The Silber Sessions initially feels like something that could almost be called The Ipecac Sessions. This, if only because it would be all too easy to imagine Mike Patton trying something like this, but he need not be the only joker in the pack. Then again, Brian Lea McKenzie, the man behind Electric Bird Noise, isn't really about funny ha-ha himself, though like many who have favored wearing black and recorded moody music, sometimes the humor is of the quietly black sort. Assisted by fellow label stalwarts such as Tara Vanflower and Silber boss Brian John Mitchell, McKenzie jumps magpie-like among various approaches essentially to see what will happen. Songs like "Onward! (Too)," exuding a kind of post-goth mournful anthemicism that could have been a Cure B-side in 1992 or a Smashing Pumpkins album track in 2000, feel the most "normal" of the bunch, if by the genre's own particular standards. "Christmas with Reilly" and "February 23rd" have that as well, in a solo guitar vein or nearly enough. Then again, McKenzie can turn out the country/folk slow-chime lope of "Brian's Theme," touching on another approach in elegant enough fashion, while "Moments Like Last Night Make Me Wanna Believe in Ghosts" turns to a bit of glitch toward the end. As for "Fall," the watery then chaotic piano and subharmonic wobble may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's not entirely a joke in the end.
~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide
EBN is basically Brian Lea McKenzie, credited here with "instruments, objects, loop machines, etc." There are some other credits as well, for some of these tracks have been assembled from bits and pieces of other items in the Silber catalog. Most notably, "Six Ligertilys for Elena" combines Jon DeRosa's guitar/effects from Aarktica's "Elena," Tara VanFlower's vocal/effects from her song "Ligertily," and Peter Aldrich's guitar/effects from his song "Six." There are a few original contributions as well, but mostly this is fairly strange electro-manipulation of sounds, plus an out-of-left-field instrumental version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Avant-post-rock at its most adventurous.
~ Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover
I know Brian Lea McKenzie from his albums released on No More Stars Records. This artist already revealed an experimental touch, but was inspired by different genres. “The Silber Sessions” holds on the diversity shown by Electric Bird Noise while accentuating a clear psychedelic touch.
When it comes to inspiration a lot of artists released on Silber Media are often linked to Brian Eno and it’s not that different with Electric Bird Noise. I can’t really say that it sounds Eno-like, but the psychedelic touch is for sure a common element. McKenzie plays the guitar in a very hallucinogenic way, which makes the music quite wafting. “Onward! (Too)”, “Morning Mother Mourning Dove” and “Brian’s Theme” are excellent references in the genre. It sometimes sounds a bit soundtrack styled although it never becomes a typical production in the genre. It just confirms the diversity of the artist’s influences. The diversity has been for sure also caused by the contribution of multiple guest artists. Jon DeRosa (Dead Leaves Rising), Peter Aldrich (also signed on Silber Media) or yet label owner and Remora frontman Brian John Mitchell are just a few names to count in.
One of the most atypical and yet one of my favorite tracks is “Fall Of The World Trade Center”. It’s a rather cold piece. A bizarre atmosphere is running through the song, which might be intentional because of what the title symbolizes. This track is definitely more soundtrack-like.
If you like minimalism and unusual experiments recovered with psychedelic guitar layers, you for sure will not be pigeonholed by Electric Bird Noise.
Guitar-centric post-rock/ambient for the light-of-heart and those with short attention spans. The mood, at least for the first two-thirds of the album, is cheerful and (as some of the song titles suggest) reminiscent of holiday music. Even that holiday “jingle” is all over the place. Very nice guitar work. The tracks toward the end take themselves a little too seriously. Recommended if you like: Mogwai (esp. 3 & 4), Brian Eno, Aarktica, Lycia, Popol Vuh. Play this, especially track 3! No FCC’s.
(1,2) Two thirty-second gems. Dreamy guitar plays smooth riffs over funny looped samples.
(3)***(2:19) Yes! Morricone-esque guitar twang and bells meet lighthearted post-rock.
(4)***(4:06) Straight-up post rock a la Mogwai with some guitar solos. Optimistic mood.
(5) (2:51) Dreamy vocals and tight rhythm section work. A little too sweet.
(6) (2:33) Carefree guitar noodling with an electronic drum loop. Nice solo at end.
(7) (1:39) A cheerful, echoey solo guitar piece.
(8)*** (3:32) Simple but pretty guitar plucking. Again, very cheerful; suggests adventure.
(9) (2:53) Even this, one of the “darker” cuts on the album, can’t help but sound hopeful. A couple of oddly-placed electronic-drum-gasms are thrown in there.
(10) (2:28) Electric guitar repeats a simple, melancholy melody a few times.
(11) (2:08) Akin to 10. Mournful, echoey guitar.
(12) (1:25) Yes, it is actually “SC is Coming to Town.” Played on a spacey synth. Too weird.
(13)*** (4:05) Creepy and atmospheric. Unlike any of the others. Goes haywire at the end.
~ Tyler Haddow, KZSU
Electric Bird Noise’s “Onward!
(too)” comes to me with a genre called “darkwave.” Now I’d never heard
this term in any music discussion groups I’ve been a part of, but that
doesn’t mean that Electric Bird Noise’s track doesn’t warrant the title.
A brooding mish mash of jazz guitar solos and understated drum rhythms
come together in, not so much a fury, but an elegantly knitted garment.
There are no stray strings that could cause a tear in the production or
any fraying seams that could wear themselves out from too much punishment.
Rather, the old-school, almost post-rock feel of the track is what’s notable.
The quavering guitar strings penetrate the surface of the track like dolphins
breaching water or a squad of Blue Angels jettying across the sky. “Onward!
(too)” fades out of glory like a noblemen who knows his time has come and
just… drops out… gracefully.
It's always refreshing to
hear music on the Silber label. In a world where there are too many generic
predictable artists, this label continues providing solid, substantial,
unique music that will stand the test of time. The Silber Sessions is the
fifth full-length release from Electric Bird Noise...a recording project
driven by the songwriting skills of Brian Lea McKenzie. This album presents
various rare and unreleased recordings by the band culled from the past
decade. But instead of coming across like a bunch of random pieces with
varying sound quality, the album is surprisingly cohesive. It's hard to
compare and contrast this album because McKenzie's music doesn't really
sound like any other specific artists. Thirteen ultra-creative cuts here...and
they all have something credible to offer. Our favorite elusive artsy cuts
include "Trouble at the Hayworth House," "Christmas With Reilly," "February
23rd," and "Fall of the World Trade Center." We could spin this one for
months and never tire of these songs. TOP PICK.
I’m smitten with the little
corner curiosity shop that is Silber Records. Behind those cobwebbed windows
are genuine oddities. It isn’t a costume party where participants go back
to normal in the morning. They gather a veritable trove of trinkets, unavailable
at the general store.
Brian Lea McKenzie’s Electric
Bird Noise project has been flying in circles around the Silber label for
a while. To the point where, for his first full-length for said label he
pieced together a collection of tracks contributes to Silber’s compilation
albums and other rarities. The Silber Sessions highlight the funnier side
of EBN. Yes, this project can play post-rock – and so does on this record
– but the project pictured here is shapeshifting and excells in short instrumentals
(some are only 30 seconds long). Even in post-rock mode, things stay short
(“Onward! [Too]” is only four minutes long). 30 minutes, 15 tracks, many
a collaborator, various angles (some comps had themes, Christmas being
one of them), and lots of fun.
Featuring the best of over
ten years of compilation tracks and other rarities, “The Silber Sessions”
is the fifth release for Electric Bird Noise and it continues the hidden
but growing legacy of this band and its minimal but often dramatic guitar-based
Brian Lea McKenzie plays
'ambient' guitar. Despite his decade long career, we only reviewed one
previous release 'Le Vestibule/Vestibule Transitoire' (see Vital Weekly
650). This new release is more of the same kind of music, but with the
addition of guestplayers, on vocals among others. Now the ambient guitars
of Electric Bird Noise should not be understood as 'drones' along the lines
of, say, Fears Fall Burning, but gentle melodic, reminding me at times
of Durutti Column such as in 'Christmas With Reilly' (that can't be a coincidence),
but at other times is more psyched and spaced out, with loud drum machines
and likewise distorted guitars. A totally different ambient guitar music
than what one would expect to think of this. Quite good actually; a sort
of post rock for a solo instrument with the addition of a bit of extras.
Very nice indeed. Hopefully pre-apocalypse music.
Un lieto evento, di nuovo
insieme la Silber Records e l'universo Electric Bird Noise, il progetto
elettronico di Brian Lea McKenzie nato nel 1997, attivo nella scena post
rock e darkwave del tempo. Qui lo troviamo con il quinto album insieme
a Jon DeRosa e Peter Aldrich alla chitarra, Taravan Flower, Annalies Monsere
alla voce e Tommy Tipton alla batteria, realizzato in collaborazione con
la nota etichetta americana di Brian John Mitchell.