I like to read a lot of different stuff; literature mostly but every once in a while I’ll get the urge to read something out of nostalgia say, like an old children’s book or maybe even speed through some beat generation stuff that I haven’t read since my old college days. It’s a good way to clear my head of the heavy stuff, the weird stuff that I so enjoy but is also a very slow and painful process to read.
I think of Beckett’s later novels and the writer Dijuna Barnes, and the ghostly historic fiction of WG Sebald to name just a few things. It’s heavy stuff sometimes and I’m not always quite sure I get it so I end up reading a bunch of scholarly essays afterwards and then usually either figure it out or find myself more lost than before. But it’s good discipline and also mesmerizing to me. On the rare occasion I watch a crappy TV show or a recent movie I begin to see what I remember movie critics talking about loose holes in plotting and how characters are not really built up and developed etc.
I also find most of popular music to be complete garbage, though I’m not going to go off on a tangent about that. I want to focus on Falling Into Birds the debut record from the band of the same name. It’s thirteen tracks of noir-ish styled off kilter thrash and bang instrumental tracks that are centered for the most part around chamber-orchestra styled compositions. To make it even better each instrument was recorded separately and often in a different part of the world by separate musicians and then all mixed together by the musical mad scientist Joey M. Bishop who began the project. He mixed the record in Cubase 9 though it sounds stellar. And not stellar in an over-produced way and not the DIY scotched-tape hiss that has become all the rage which simply cheapened a good old fashioned and hard worn effect.
Falling Into Birds opens with “Syzygy” an eight-minute symphonic swath of piano, soft horns and harrowing strings paired with less classical drum beats and horns. As it progresses it takes turns both playful and jazzy, pulling the listener along like a fallen leaf on a fast-moving stream. Next on “Sonder” things go from quiet chamber to Klezmer-like heights. It reminded me of the great neo-chamber act Rachel’s who fused so many elements of jazz and rock into a chamber ensemble and made it feel fresh and exciting. “Love is a Plague” takes chamber and rock to its bounds. It’s at times like the rattling chains of a doomed man.
On “The Intrepid Eleven - No Home” the band keeps it straightly symphonic with the horns giving a little bit of Mile’s Davis’s Sketches of Spain vibe and this feeling of the lost times of Spanish royalty fused with guitar rock is sketched out beautifully on the heart-beating “The Intrepid Eleven - Rhadamanthine Men.”
Later on Falling Into Birds takes a dive into more experimental territory by upping the guitar-centric rock and forging it against the horns and oboe aesthetic on “The Deft, The Daft, The Dire” then quickly sinks back into to the neo-classical feel briefly on “A Reading Nook” before diving headlong into the dark Russian classicism of the eerie, string laden “The Eschatologist.” It sets up perhaps the most experimental tracks, the odd at times and beautiful at others music box appeal of “Apotheosis - Trials In Corporeity” and then flows into the classical fugue of the closer “Apotheosis - The Metamorphosis.”
Falling Into Birds is a record of controlled and orchestrated aggression. Its brilliance lies in its many separate parts which Joey M. Bishop has seamlessly sewn together. Like a large meal it is an album that needs to be taken down slowly, in courses, and digested between pauses. In doing so one will be able to relish the magic that this record is, and appreciate it slowly and wholly, which is only deserving of a record of such scope.
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