ELECTRIC BIRD NOISE
(2019 - Silber Records - USA)
[the physical CD - very ltd ed, can be purchased at] http://www.squidco.com
This is quite a different style of music and fantastic dive into the wonderful world of manipulated/super creative/avant 'out rock', by Electric Bird Noise (birth name: Brian Lea McKenzie). The newly realized collaboration with these additional musicians springs forth not only a new energy, but something so strong and brimming over with life, that it rates a listing on my TOP CHOICES of 2019 list.
Adding Bradley Wayne Roberts (bass), Jason Hearn (drums), Steve Strong (drums) and Alan Watts (voice on track #7), Electric Bird Noise takes his guitar into a place that is at once amazing, whirling, and spaced out. His vast history with ambient, sound colors, drone, experimental, and noise, is prime experience for this new devilishly intricate math rock hybrid that parades around progressive rock and RIO pathways, yet makes a new road of its own. I asked Brian about the other musicians and how this project came about. He was born and raised in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which is the most famous and fun beach to go to in SC. Band mates Jason and Bradley are also Myrtle Beach natives and are veterans of the local music scene. Steve strong is from Devon, UK. Brian runs a recording studio there in Myrtle Beach and puts on shows occasionally. It was one of these shows he did, where Steve Strong came to sit in, and the next day they went to the studio and recorded a bunch of material together, creating what would be 4 of the 8 titles on this new album. He has done countless jams and in fact, when I asked how he got the moniker Electric Bird Noise, he said "once a month free formed improvisational collaborative workshops... I'd show up with a bunch of guitar pedals and do my thing. After one of the jams a person came up and stated that my playing reminder him of birds or bird noises...it stuck."
Although I have heard quite a few superior recordings that were improvised, but soundly fully composed which is the ultimate talent and result), this one ranks up there with one of them. Brian told me all pieces were improvised live to recording gear. Noted with oddly named compositions, with just the full name of the member who played on the track (along with Electric Bird Noise), and you even see a part I, II, amd III on Steve Strong, then Hearn-Roberts, with track 7 being 'Hearn-Roberts-Watts, and then the witty final cut 'Gnosts-Evets' (being Steve Strong's name spelled backwards). The music has several flavors going on, sometimes sounding like distorted carnival themes, with what could be imagined as Adrian Belew doing some of his exploratory guitar effects, or better yet, the earlier and more outstanding solo guitar ventures by Fred Frith ('Solo Guitar' 1974). The pieces are not too far from Frith's brilliant Massacre, when the drums and bass are added, with heapings of guitar soaked reverb and other effects. A hint of surf even shows up. It is certainly a wild ride and deeply progressive, with shades of X-Legged Sally, Samla Mammas Manna, and Present in there. The one track that has spoke word, features Alan Watts talking about some deep thinker topics like birth, being a stranger in the world, karma, etc. It strikes a nice pause from the more all instrumental forceful exercises, which all make for an exhilarating listen. One can only hope that the feedback from this first 'Hearn-Roberts-Strong-Watts' recording will usher in a second one. The band format with this delicious experimental rock is one to cherish and look forward to more. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 7 - 27 - 2019