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Electric Bird Noise - 2019 - "Hearn-Roberts-Strong-Watts"

(27:22, Silber Records)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Steve Strong I 2:54
2. Steve Strong II 3:03
3. Steve Strong III 3:29
4. Hearn-Roberts I 3:07
5. Hearn-Roberts II 3:36
6. Hearn-Roberts III 3:56
7. Hearn-Roberts-Watts 4:23
8. Gnorts Evets 2:54


Brian Lea MacKenzie - guitars
Jason Hearn - drums
Bradley Wayne Roberts - bass
Steve Strong - drums
Alan Watts - spoken voice

Prolusion. US venture ELECTRIC BIRD NOISE have been around in one shape or another for at least 20 years, with composer and musician Brian Lea MacKenzie the main person that this project revolves around. "Hearn-Roberts-Strong-Watts" is the name of the latest album to be issued under the Electric Bird Noise moniker, and was released through US label Silber Records in the early summer of 2019.

Analysis. The productions I have encountered by Electric Bird Noise so far have been rather different in scope and character, ranging from almost regular new wave/post-punk and space rock oriented affairs to deeply experimental creations with stronger similarities to post-rock and arguably even free form jazz. This latest album are variations of the latter, an aspect of this venture that has been ongoing for a few years now. MacKenzie appears to have become rather infatuated with light toned guitar sounds and manners in which these sounds can be treated and used to create eerie, ominous soundscapes. In previous years these excursions have mainly involved various experiments he has catered for himself, but this time around additional musicians have been involved too. This album starts out with MacKenzie and drummer Steve Strong creating three fairly similar creations with the guitars and the drums often both taking the lead in grater parts of the song, with the drums alternating in pace, patterns and intensity, with the guitar textures and reverbs ranging from ghostly reverbs to almost alarm-like ominous cold and dominating calls, occasionally with both instruments forming chaotic, atonal and dramatic soundscapes. We are then presented with three more creations featuring the talents of bassist Bradley Roberts and drummer Jason Hearn adding their instruments to the proceedings. The first two are more expressive and expanded variations of the album's opening three songs, with more room and space given to both the drums and the bass while the guitar takes a more subservient role at these times. But the dramatic, ominous and dramatic build-ups remains,at times with even more dramatic bell like sounds crafted as well. That being said, it is easy to hear that these are constructions pulled from the same sonic palette as the opening tracks at the core level. The final cut on this second set of three songs is a more regular affair, with a foundation in more of a post-punk oriented landscape. The dramatic, ominous and atonal guitar textures have their place here too, with some additional textures of reverbs as well unless I'm much mistaken, but used inside a more regular song context these effects gets to be all the more effective as far as I'm concerned. That the song as such is more energetic and conventional at heart also makes it a more intriguing experience for me. The seventh song here adds in the spoken words of Alan Watts to complement the threesome of MacKenzie, Hearn and Roberts, and the instrument details are toned down to give room and space for the spoken voice here. An approach that also functions rather well I must say, even if the core sound of the song itself here returns to the more expressive variety explored in the opening five creations. Still, spoken words and a subtly more dampened instrument expression also suits this music very well indeed. The concluding track here is, unless I'm very much mistaken, actually the first song of the album played from the end and back to the beginning. A very different experience obviously, and not by far as dramatic and ominous as some of the more expressive cuts here can be. But also one with a stronger otherworldly feel to it, for more or less obvious reasons.

Conclusion. The artist refers to the style of music explored here as ambient jazz. For my sake I'd state that the word ambient here is misleading, as the moods and atmospheres created here doesn't have any kind of relaxing touches to it. This is a kind of ambience that would function very well as the soundtrack to a horror oriented computer game, the sheer ominous atmospheres ones that will keep you awake rather than relax the mind. The music is expressive and experimental, no doubt about that, and those that tend to favor avant-garde oriented experimental music with nightmare like qualities to the moods and atmospheres should find this album to be an intriguing experience - at least in my opinion.

Progmessor: December 26th 2019
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Electric Bird Noise Silber Records


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