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Birds And Buildings - Bantam To Behemoth CD (album) cover


Birds And Buildings


Eclectic Prog

4.24 | 461 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Birds and Buildings is the name of what is arguably the most notable USA's prog surprise for 2008, at least as a particular entity: given the fact that most members come from other interesting prog acts such as Deluge Grander and Cerebus Effect, this surprise of musical excellence and compositional strength shouldn't take us by surprise in an absolute sense. Well, now that I'm through with this pseudo- riddle, let me tell you right away that this "Bantam to Behemoth" album is an amazing exposure of eclectic progressive rock that ranges from Canterbury, space-rock, jazz-fusion, symphonic and avant- prog. All these elements are provided in a series of well defined sonorities linked through a cohesive unity of sounds and atmospheres. 'Birds Flying Into Buildings' kicks off the album with a frenzy attitude, properly amalgamated in the framework of drum kit and keyboards that state a foundation of jazz-rock- meets-space-rock. This is something like a mixture of Soft Machine, Gong and "magma-ish" Guapo. Thinks shift toward a more lyrical framework with 'Terra Fire', although through its relaxing moods you can tell that the opener's cosmic vibe is still perpetuated here. It is so great that the eerie mellotron layers meet an elegant counterpart in the jazzy chromatics delivered on drums and sax. The track's 3 minute-span really feels short. 'Tunguska' enhances the lyrical element and takes it to a dimension of full frontal ethnic flavors plus spacey colors: picture mentally a mixture of Embryo and "Fish Rsiing"- era Hillage and you'll come close to what I'm trying to say. Well, this is not all there is: when things turn into a rougher stance, VdGG similarities come to mind, which eventually help to build a return of the jazzy element with a more powerful drive. The coda brings some of the stereotypical bombast of symphonic prog. 'Caution Congregates and Forms a Storm' starts on a very warm note, cleverly elaborated on the combination of acoustic guitar, piano, mellotron and flute: once the drum kit settles in, the mood is intensified although the mood remains essentially the same. The track's overall mood, which states a confluence of pastoral spirituality, grayish romanticism and ethereal vibrations, reminds me of Anthony Phillips, Pulsar, Happy the Man and PFM. Things pretty much follow a similar road in the next piece, 'Chronicle of the Invisible River of Stone', which actually emphasizes the symphonic factor and drives through more intimate emotions. The inclusion of some Renaissance-like passages helps the band to keep things quite distinct, while the use of some other dense passages (led by synth and mellotron) keeps the connection with the spacey thing (something that this band is unabashedly fond of). 'Yucatan 65' reiterates the joint preeminence of acoustic guitar, mellotron and flute, only this time the main mood is less symphonic and more fusionesque. This gets gradually dominant all the way toward the second half, in which the band indulges in a robust mixture of Embryo, "Third"-era Soft Machine and "Hergest Ridges"-era Oldfield. 'Chakra Khan' states a similar dynamics to that of the opener, with hints to Brand-X and Wigwam, plus the usual cosmic-oriented synthesizer adornments. Meanwhile, the obviously vintage sounds delivered on the organ bring back memories of Colosseum, Arzachel and Egg; also, the sax solo reminds me of the late Dick Heckstall-Smith. 'Battalion' takes much of the preceding track's vibrating strength and translates it into a more robust scheme. This allows a most elaborated contrast between the jazz-rock jam that fills the first half's nucleus and the space-rock jam that occupies most of the second half. 'Sunken City, Sunny Day' closes down the album on a reflective note, with an introspective ambience that sounds like a long lost Hawkwind ballad rearranged by a host of Canterbury and krautrock musicians who share a common melancholy. Sorry, I couldn't come up with a more accurate description of this lovely closure. All in all, it is indeed a lovely closure for a lovely album that should make it in any 2008 Prog Rock Top 10 list.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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