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Bird Noise -
CD Album 2013 | Silber 120
11 tracks, 37 minutes
$12 $10! ($18 $15! international, $5 download (320 kbps, ~87 megs))
Electric Bird Noise is headed up by South Carolina musician Brian Lea McKenzie, who I first reviewed way back in 1999 when Aural Innovations was still a printed mag. Well Brian is still at it, and as I re-read my earlier reviews it seems Electric Bird Noise was originally a band, though it’s now a McKenzie solo project, with vocals on two tracks by Silber Records label honcho Brian John Mitchell (BJM), who readers might recognize from his own projects, Remora and Small Life Form.
Desert Jelly incorporates elements of Space Rock, Krautrock and early 80s Post-Punk and Synth Pop to create a varied set of 11 tracks that are simultaneously modern and retro. The album opens with Dunebuggy, which got me thinking of Can with classic Prog keyboards and spaced out alien synths. It’s dark and intense, with a Krautrocking Teutonic feel. Peter Hook is next and I’m guessing the Peter Hook of the title is the bassist from Joy Division and New Order; indeed the song has a distinct early 80s melodic sound, though Brian injects heavy intensity into the music, and like the opening track it’s nicely embellished with space electronics. This segues smoothly into the title track, which pulls back into a quiet, left-to-right channel pulsating drone wave for starts, soon joined by additional pleasant electro-soundscape patterns and melodic guitar (or keyboard?). It’s all very peaceful and then BAM!!…. we’re smacked full in the chops by the blazing space-punk of the appropriately titled I Miss Those Hardcore Kids. As The Glitter Glows begins as a whimsically melodic electronic piece, then launches into another early 80s styled tune that includes a motorik rhythmic pulse and space electronics. This is one damn good catchy tune! Welcome To Static Beach features swirling flying saucer sounds and whirring 50s sci-fi film styled effects for the first couple minutes, and then kicks into a dark, droning atmospheric rocker. Continuing the sci-fi flick motif, I Come From The Earth would make a great soundtrack theme song. It’s got a cool combination of tribal percussion, multiple soaring electronics, and BJM repeating the line, “I Come From The Earth”. Returning to the 80s influences, Carnegiea Gigantea is a pleasant, melodic, hook-laden 80s styled electo-pop tune but with the spaced out edge that characterizes the rest of the album. Pants And Sake Take The Neighborhood is a peaceful melodic soundscapes piece. The Theme From Impationly Yours is a deep space Kraftwerkian synth-pop tune with BJM on vocals. And I love the high intensity chaos-in-space of the closing track, Burned By The Sands Fire And Scars Alone I Wait Counting The Stars.
Well I gotta say this is hands down the best Electric Bird Noise album I’ve heard yet. In some ways its a celebration of the early 80s, though Brian puts his own stamp on the music and, of course, I love the way he sends it all hurling into space.
For more information visit the Silber Records web site at: http://www.silbermedia.com
~ Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations
New Order is among the best bands of all time. I say that with the conviction and certainty of a long time fan, and I'm sure that many of you would agree with me. And if "Desert Jelly" is any indication, I'm quite certain that Electric Bird Noise feel the same way as I do. "Desert Jelly" is an album filled with bombastic hooks and subtle nuance that brilliantly capture the spirit and essence of New Order, while simultaneously creating something of their own that's both contemporary and vital.
Opener "Dunebuggy" is big and brassy and filled with bass, a groove large enough to drive, well, a dunebuggy through it, but it's the second track "Peter Hook" where the album really hits it's stride. Playing homage to the leader of Revenge and Monaco, it's a loving tribute to the man that made those bands so great, a track that recalls the best moments of both those projects without diving into the obvious cliche of a bass solo. "Carnegiea Gigantea" brings to mind "1963", only revved up a little to perhaps 1965 or 1968, and if there was a little more guitar I'd swear it was a lost b-side from "Technique". Elsewhere on the album Electric Bird Noise do an excellent job of creating an aural environment that builds and grows over the course of the album's songs, blending manic energy, suburban bedroom dance beats, jangly guitar, Numan-esque vocals, and some sweet analog synths to create the perfect soundtrack for an unfilmed John Hughes movie. And really, what better compliment is there than that? "Desert Jelly" comes highly recommended, and I encourage you to seek it out for yourself...
~ Ping Things
Electric Bird Noise is Brian Lea McKenzie...an intriguing fellow who has been in the business of writing and recording puzzling underground music for the past fifteen years. Desert Jelly is a bit of a departure in terms of sounds and styles, as the album offers a more conventional approach...with many of the songs having more of an accessible pop feel. But this is not a sell out venture, nothing could be further from the truth. McKenzie's songs remain vibrant and inspired. True to the claim of the accompanying press release, these songs recall classic artists from the past like New Order, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Brian Eno, and Todd Rundgren. Another interesting twist here is the fact that three of the tracks feature lead vocals courtesy of Brian John Mitchell (Remora). Mesmerizing underground pop music with a decidedly experimental slant. Eleven mind-bending tracks here including "Dunebuggy," "As the Glitter Glows," "I Come From The Earth," "Carnegiea Gigantea," and "The Theme From Impatiently Yours." Top pick.
Electric Bird Noise gets strange. The title alone should indicate such a strange trip. Mixing the obvious assumption with a slight misspelling ‘Desert Jelly’ offers a bizarre trip through noise, nostalgia, and new wave. Aspects of the album are completely habit-forming. Some of these songs will get stuck in the head. What’s best is how the closer to pop Electric Bird Noise gets, the better the album succeeds. More conventional does not mean a basic, simple song. Rather conventional is a loosely defined term referring to at least some aspect of pop sensibilities. That means melody. That also means noise and ‘Desert Jelly’ gets loud, really loud at times.
‘dunebuggy’ begins with a stomp. The whole song is a riff played over and over again. Honestly this works wonders. Introducing the album with a sense of fun is good as it gives the listener some idea of what they are about to explore. ‘peter hook’ is one of the memorable tracks on the album. Beginning off quite slowly it builds and blasts off. A few songs have split personalities like ‘welcome to static beach’ which might as well be two entirely separate tracks. What’s nice about ‘welcome to static beach’ is the underlying sense of hope under the shaggy dog like riff around the 2 and a half minute mark.
Towards the end Electric Bird Noise explore more ‘dance-inspired’ pieces like the twee ‘carnegiea gigantea’ and glo-fi ‘the theme from impatiently yours’. Desert Jelly is an eclectic mix done right.
~ Beach Sloth
Electric Bird Noise has developed a reputation for a guitar-driven, experimental and atmospheric sound. But on the band’s latest album, Desert Jelly, which Silber Records released a couple of weeks ago, the band defies expectations with an album devoted to synths and New Wave.
“Dune Buggy” is the first track off the new album and in some way it reminds me a little bit of prog rock and a bit of a band like the Big Sleep. In any case, the track has a muscular buzzing, almost drone-like funk — it’s not a typical funk you’d expect but it comes from weird angles.
~ William Ruben Helms, The Joy of Violent Movement
The project is an 11-song mix showcasing McKenzie’s more than capable multi-instrumental talents and songwriting craft. “Desert Jelly,” McKenzie’s eighth Electric Bird Noise CD, features the use of the Prophet T8 synthesizer, and additional analog instruments. At times reminiscent of Todd Rundgren’s 1970s-era experimental rock, as well as 80s influences (ala Depeche Mode, and others), “Desert Jelly” will be ear candy to fans of creative instrumental multi-tracking mixing old school sounds with modern sensibilities.