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


Birds And Buildings


Eclectic Prog

4.24 | 461 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Having a traipse through the search engine of PA, I was checking what albums the users had voted as the best of the past few years. Seeing Bantam To Behemoth as the best of 2008 was a singular surprise as not only was it the only I didn't own, but I had never heard of it or its parent band Birds And Buildings. And goodness knows why they've got such a low profile as on the strength of this they have the potential to become modern prog giants.

Instrumentally, they've got things down more or less perfectly. Opener Birds Flying Into Buildings effortlessly demonstrates how well these guys play. Keyboard sounds dominate but there are wonderful passages of bass, drums and sax on offer here and on various other tracks. Birds Flying Into Buildings shows the band finding a difficult to reach yet alone maintain balance between showing chops and making enjoyable, accessible music which they do in fact maintain. Birds Flying Into Buildings has a more muscular, exciting feel but the band show they have range by later dropping the ten minute Caution Congregates And Forms A Storm, which is very chilled, delicate and relaxing and also the excellent Yucatan 65 which moves seamlessly from pastoral sunny beginnings to a rousing rocking finish.

A lot of five star material here from what could be called the new King Crimson so why only four stars? Well, right as BAB get it, they get one element of the sound very wrong- the vocals. There are three problems here

i) Music this strong and detailed arguably doesn't require or shouldn't have vocals. ii) Dan's not a very good singer, reminding me of Norm from Last Of The Summer Wine fronting a rock band from time time. iii) Their mixing. God knows why a band that elsewhere demonstrates such exemplary control of their sound should handle this so poorly but the vocals occupy a perfectly irritating place in the mix. They are not quite high enough to be fully appreciated as traditional on top vocals but they are not quite low enough to just fuzz into the music as part of the sound.

A female vocalist handles Chronicle Of The Invisible River Of Stone and while she's an improvement she's no Simone Simons and again, BAB feel like a natural instrumental band to me. (Incidentally, I'm not some anti-vocal nazi; Opeth is one of my favourite bands partly because of Mikael Akerfeldt's vocal mastery. It's just that the particular type of power- jazz and atmospheric bliss BAB deliver make them redundant.)

Still, I'm only yammering on about the vocals because they're really the only flaw. Otherwise, from the frenetic finish of Chakra Kahn to the smooth, beautifully haunting closure of Sunken City Sunny Day, this is really a top notch band. Let's hope they do end up giving us the instrumental albums I was always hoping King Crimson would.

Textbook | 4/5 |


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