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Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic - Sonic Geology CD (album) cover


Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic



3.65 | 8 ratings

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4 stars Sonic Geology is a collection from the first four years activity by 'the world's hardest rocking chamber quartet'. In that time they released an album and two 12" eps, most of which are included on this CD along with a couple of previously unreleased tracks. It also draws a line under the first phase of their career - at around the time of this release, founding member Roger Miller left and subsequent line ups would include saxophonist Ken Field.

BOTM boast an unorthodox line up - on this CD three keyboards and guitar but no bass or drums, although everybody played percussion and guest musicians are also featured extensively. There are also some interesting influences discernible here. There is an obvious interest in 20th century classical music, most explicitly on Excerpts from the Rite of Spring and also in the tellingly titled Terry Riley's House (a track from their first album not included here). Two of the founder members had played in punk bands, which shows up in their tendency to play short pieces with occasional swathes of noisy guitar or frantic percussion. In addition, there are also traces of Neu! and Harmonia in tracks like Shiny Golden Snakes and Pulse Piece, which feature motorik drum machines, rippling piano and stripped to the bone but highly melodic guitar lines. Add to that the occasional piece of low key, Eno-esque ambience and you've got a highly enjoyable and varied collection. There's even a whisper of jazz here and there, although there's not much space for improvisation in their studiedly formal compositions and arrangements. Despite the rather cerebral nature of their music, there are plenty of warm touches - Beats of the Mesozoic features a massed percussion work out that sounds like muscle and sweat were involved, and their brief run through of the Theme from Rocky and Bullwinkle would not have sounded out of place on a Zappa album.

Although their music was to evolve and mutate through the 80s and 90s, Sonic Geology remains probably the best introduction to BOTM. The Fossil Record is an interesting companion piece, as it consists mostly of unreleased pieces from the same period (although 2 tracks crop up on both albums). Recommended to lovers of RIO, Kraut Rock, Post Rock and sonic adventures in general.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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