US project ELECTRIC BIRD NOISE have been around since the late 1990’s, and is first and foremost the creative vehicle of composer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Lea MacKenzie from what I understand. There are half a dozen or so full length productions released under this project name, and the most recent of these is “Kind of Black”, which was issued through US label Silber Records in early 2014.
When I last encountered this project, it was by reviewing their previous studio effort “Desert Jelly”, a delightful conglomeration of Krautrock, space rock and synth pop. An album that at times was stunning. From what I understand that production is the odd one out in the discography of Electric Bird Noise however, and this album seems to be described as a creation that see this project returning to their roots.
While I don’t know enough about Electric Bird Noise to be able to verify this, I can at least testify to the fact that this album is dramatically different from it’s predecessor in just about anything. Music so markedly different that it is difficult to comprehend that these two albums are products of the same mind, and especially as it’s just a year between them.
Basically this latest album contains three types of composition: There are sound collages consisting of echoing, reverberating and resonating sounds, generally light in tone, coming together in atmospheric creations without any defined melody as such, but with a high number of melodic details emanating from a frail noise wall tapestry. Then there are creating that starts as minimalistic melodies constructed by way of slowly plucked, echoing guitar notes, gradually invaded by additional textures of echoing, reverberating and droning sounds, developing towards an arrangement that is in part or in full an atmospheric laden noise tapestry with subtle melodic resonances. Then at last we have the darker drones that opens up the last set of tunes, invaded by either echoing, reverberating and resonating light toned textures or by additional drones and noise textures, again concluding with some sort of noise texture tapestry. The most dramatic of these concluding track eleven, a creation that is almost unpleasant due to the dramatic nature of some of the invading sounds in the second half.
As far as mood and atmosphere is concerned this is a bleak and desolate album. This isn’t the beautiful art of music as such, but more like music as an art of subtle despair and quiet desperation, with occasional dramatic tendencies bubbling to the surface. If you dream a lot, you may have had those dreams where you are in an idyllic place, everything seems to be just perfect and brimming with happiness. And then you get a strong feeling that something is terribly, dramatically and possibly even deadly wrong. This is the soundtrack for the part of that dream from when that feeling of wrongness appears.
It’s an intriguing ride, but obviously not a ride for everyone. If you are generally intrigued by minimalistic music and soundscapes, are drawn to dark and desolate moods, or just generally interested in artists that use their instruments, in this case mainly guitars, in unusual and unconventional manners, then “Kind of Black” is a production you possibly might want to check out. In terms of style, for those with am keen interest in such matters, I would place this one somewhere on the border between drones, post rock, minimalistic experimental music and ambient soundscapes.
My rating: 80/100