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

BANTAM TO BEHEMOTH

Birds And Buildings

Eclectic Prog


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avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A Cyclic Adventure

Last year (2007) Dan Britton said he is starting yet another project called Birds and Buildings that will release an album in 2008. After being very enthusiastic about his other bands, Cerebus Effect (CE) and Deluge Grander (DG) I was highly anticipating this one. He was also very kind to send me this album for reviewing.

Unlike its name, the album does not go from Bantam to Behemoth, but rather starts as a Behemoth and stays as such during the whole of it.

Starting with a high energy rhythm reminiscing of zeuhl, this album goes straight to business. This first track is mesmerizing, passionate and exhilarating. However, there a great deal of variety in this album and you will experience many different sounds, styles and atmospheres before the end of this more than one hour long album. But fear not, this zeuhlish element will come again later on in the album (6, 8).

As rich sounding as the previous albums; as complex and well structured and composed; as varied and enjoyable - this album shows again what a fantastic composer Dan Britton is. I can't imagine him doing something I will dislike.

The music here shifts and covers many different styles, from the aforementioned zeuhl to jazz and rock; it also covers many grounds in terms of mood - from fast, intense and even nervous to the calm and peaceful; and always beautiful and thrilling.

I hear this album as a mixing of the intensity and style of Cerebus Effect and the grandiosity and epic- ness of Deluge Grander - the sound here is in a way a mixing of the two to create something new.

There are places where the CE sound if very dominant and visible like in parts of the first track Birds Flying Into Buildings and the third track Tunguska. The edgy and frisky keyboards sound pierces through making again allusion to the Canterbury sound. The effect is enhanced by the addition of a saxophone culminating in a marvelous sound painting.

In addition to the music being gorgeous and enthralling, the musicianship here is top notch. Whether it's the great sax, flute and clarinet playing, the enthusiastic and dynamic drumming (two different drummers on different tracks) and the always captivating keyboards, all is done very well, and always manages to convey the emotions and mental images efficiently.

Speaking of those, listening to the album while studying the art work raised some questions in my mind which I will ask Dan about, but before that let me mention the awesome layout of the album.

The art work inside the album is captivating and as the press notes say, each 3 tracks create a small trilogy each and those 3 trilogies are also intertwined and form a closed circle. This is noticeable in the music which seems to flow from one track to the next and each consecutive track seems to carry some element or pattern from its previous.

This cyclic feature is also portrayed in the inside art work which seem to adjust to the track titles so that each picture depicts one track; the art work is a continuous piece, like the music and it ends where it began (although not exactly if you look carefully) and thus closes the circle. Those pictures can be seen in the Myspace website of the band.

Now back to one of the questions I mentioned, is the appearance of the words Miranda and Spark as mountains in the paintings (think mount Rushmore). Miranda may allude to The Solitude of Miranda the last track from the DG album, August in the Urals. The acoustic guitar reminiscent of a Spanish style in the track Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass might also refer to that track as it had a Flamenco styled guitar playing.

All this only strengthens the mixing I mentioned in the beginning, of the two previous bands sounds - that of DG and that of CE - into one coherent sound that makes up B&B.

Lastly, much like August in the Urals there is much to absorb here. Not only are the tracks long, but the abundance of elements and styles combined with the structure makes it an album to be listened to well several times until one can safely say he knows and understands it.

This album is recommended to those who liked the previous Dan Britton projects as well as to people who like an amalgam of styles and bands like Panzerpappa.

Moreover, this album is highly recommended to all those who want spice in their music, creativity, variety, sophistication, thrill and excitement.

In other words, go get this album!

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#165289)
Posted Saturday, March 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars Want some mellotron in your Jazz Rock / Fusion? How about some Zeuhl style bass? While we're at it, let's add some David Jackson-esque sax. Throw in some incredible drumming, and even a little vibraphone, and you have the makings of the opening track on "Bantam to Behemoth." "Birds Flying Into Buildings" sets the tone for the musical extravaganza that is Birds and Buildings.

It is pretty obvious that Dan Britton and company had been pulling out their Zeuhl albums before composing this one. However, if you are familiar with Dan Britton's other projects, you can expect there is more to it. That assumption would be totally correct. Along with the Jazz, and Zeuhl aspects, there is also an infusion of a symphonic sensibility on this album. It is stronger in some tracks than others, but it is never completely absent.

The opener is almost completely in an avant Jazz / Zeuhl realm. "Terra Fire" is less in your face, but begins in much the same territory. Gradually, it becomes a bit more symphonic. Here you start to hear things reminiscent of Deluge Grander.

"Tunguska" goes further into Symphonic areas, but it is still very Jazz. It is also a bit more mysterious, and quirky. There are parts in this track that again remind me of Van Der Graaf Generator. Right when you think that's what it is about, there is a very cool electric piano solo. Then the mellotron kicks in again. This is what I love about Dan Britton projects. There are always lots of surprises.

The gears are completely shifted on "Caution Congregates and Forms a Storm." This is completely symphonic. The mood is also considerably lightened. There is a fine line being walked here. The slightest push, and this might not seem like it belongs on the album. Not to worry, the band pulls it off beautifully. Earlier themes and moods are reintroduced, and give it perfect cohesion. It even delves back into the earlier avant style, without losing the symphonic epic quality. It ends with an absolutely beautifully played piano, accompanied by acoustic guitar.

"Chronicle of the Invisible River of Stone" solidifies the symphonic portion of Bantam to Behemoth. This comes right out of the classic Symphonic playbook. The addition of Megan Wheatley's vocals was a stroke of genius. Her lilting voice is the perfect accompaniment for the music. This track reminds me of Anthony Philips for some reason. Although, I would be hard pressed to explain exactly why. While this track is completely different from where the album started, the natural progression of the tracks blends it right in.

Still in Symph land, "Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass" offers a very cool instrumental jam. It starts out as an easy acoustic guitar, and flute, flamenco piece. More is added, and it becomes a completely symphonic jam. Towards the end, the Latin sound pretty much disappears, but that's just how it flows.

"Chakra Kahn" returns to the original avant Jazz / Zeuhl styles, and it stays that way through "Battalion." Then "Sunken City, Sunny Day closes softly with a bit more avant tinged Symphonic.

I was impressed with this album from the first spin. Dan Britton seems to improve with each release. That's a tall order too, because Cerebus Effect was darn good, and Deluge Grander was excellent. I never saw much room for improvement of the musicianship from the other bands, but this time it is even better. This is a Jazz, Avant, Zeuhlish, Symphonic, tour de force. Exciting is really the best word to describe it. You are really missing out if you don't get it. Something will really have to impress me to beat this for best album of 2008.

Oh, and the artwork is really cool too.

H.T. Riekels

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Send comments to bhikkhu (BETA) | Report this review (#166310)
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wonderful first album for this group wich mixes together a great number of influences as King Crimson, Genesis, Yes and Gentle Giant, witha bit of jazzy atmospheres.

The first track is astonishing and when you listen entering vibraphone, saxophone, etc. is a pleasure for the ears. It has a great KC influence, even for the construction of the song, but has its power in the rhythm, which is taken from jazz-fusion ideas. Subsequently along the whole album we can listen to other important and pleasant influences, all mixed together to obtain a very interesting work.

All the musicians are in tune and the vocalism, male and female, is always catchy for your heart and mind.

Four stars, not less. But the fourth is for the encouragement to maintain this high level of performance!

To listen many times to enjoy in its complexity.

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Send comments to progpromoter (BETA) | Report this review (#178977)
Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I just heard this album for the first time a couple days ago, and I seriously cannot stop listening.....Even though the album opener hooked me right away, I've gone through so many bands and albums where there's one really great song, only to be folowed by a bunch of let-downs.....so I was sort of skeptical. That first song only sets the tone for the rest. This album is in every way a prime example of progressive rock at it's best. The musicans are extremely talented and the composition and arrangemtns are fantastic. This is my first review on the website, and there's just so much to say, but would take a while to seriously convey how good the album is. All I can end this with is, go get it and check these guys out. I cant wait to see/hear this band more in the future!!!

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Send comments to smuggledmutation (BETA) | Report this review (#187972)
Posted Tuesday, November 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Avestin notes near the end of his excellent review of this album that if your into any of Dan Britton's other projects (DELUGE GRANDER & CEREBUS EFFECT) or another band called PANZERPAPPA then this is recommended. Well for whatever reason I have had a hard time getting into two thirds of these bands, and so it should be no surprise that this album while impressive fails to capture my heart. By the way I love the Avant / Jazz / Fusion band CEREBUS EFFECT. Anyway this album is impressive, there's lots to like but for whatever reason I have a hard time paying attention and enjoying much of this. Maybe it's just too much for me that's all. I'll give a brief analysis.

"Birds Flying Into Buildings" is probably my favourite with that Zeuhl inspired beginning and then the jazzy section that follows with mellotron. This song has my full attention. "Terra Fire" has vocals and I must say they sound distant and processed at times, I like when they sound more normal. Some nice bass 2 minutes in and lots of mellotron. "Tunguska" opens with some atmosphere. Flute comes in followed by piano then vocals. I like the drum work and then the piano before 4 minutes. "Caution Congregates And Forms A Storm" is such a good title for the longest song on here. The piano sounds really good as the mellotron flows. The tempo picks up 3 minutes in,some deep bass follows. Lots of piano 9 1/2 minutes in as it settles somewhat. "Chronicle Of The Invisible River Of Stone" opens with more piano and we get some guest female vocals a minute in. I like the piano / percussion melody 7 minutes in.

"Yucatan 65:The Agitation Of The Mass" opens with acoustic guitar as flute joins in. Mellotron is plentiful in this tune as well. I like the sound better after 7 minutes to the end where it becomes darker and more intense, sort of like the start of the album. "Chakra Khan" (haha) is uptempo with horns, vocals, keys and drums standing out. Guitar before 3 minutes. "Battalion" has a great intro as vocals come in. Check out the piano and drumming after 2 minutes. The sax is prominant 7 minutes in and the drumming is outstanding. Mellotron ends it. "Sunken City, Sunny Day" is mellow with piano, mellotron, acoustic guitar and spoken word samples. Cool song to end it.

At over 69 minutes in length and with all the variety and amazing instrumental work there's lots here for everyone to enjoy. Highly recommended to all (except for me).

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#191856)
Posted Thursday, December 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#192677)
Posted Friday, December 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first time I heard a track of this album, I was hooked by the complex and yet accessible music of Birds and Building. It was Ycatan65. I was estonished by their unique style combining - almost - all the categories used on this site. When I heard the opening title, here, I immediately bought the album. The other songs I discovered add a new mood compared to my two first experience. More nostalgic it comes closer to the other composition of Dan Britton, with Deluge grander. The sax, however, with its jazzy sounds, opens a new path to its creativity. I surely consider this album as an "excellent addition to any pro collection". I can't give 5 stars because of two points: - I lsten to this album, with a lot of pleasure, but only from time to time. The very personnal atmosphere of Dan's composition requires to be "in the mood" and have appropriate listening conditions. - As others, I would friendly advise Dan to let someone else sing... His voice is used to enrich the sound, deepen the general atmosphere of strangeness, agitation, confusion... but it comes to the point of distracting a bit.

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Send comments to JethroTree (BETA) | Report this review (#212219)
Posted Thursday, April 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's a recent one, and still pretty unknown but this is going to be pretty big in prog circles in the next few years. Imagine a mix of King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Camel, Magma and Mahavishnu Orchestra, throw in modern production and bam! Epic album. This album is very jazzy, but eclectic enough not to be thrown in totally with the Canterbury scene. For such a recent album it sounds very magnificent and incredibly well matured. There's always something new to hear and discover and the flow just makes it an absolute pleasure to listen to. Aside from all the comparisons it's a massively interesting album regardless of who you've heard, powerful, fast and intricate it's everything that makes prog great, and with the mix there is something very new and personal and the energy is matching the level of Bedlam in Goliath, while the music is nowhere near as abrasive. This is one to get familiar with first and then throw on when very much under the influence of your favourite drug, legal or otherwise.

3 Choice Tracks: Birds Flying Into Buildings, Caution Congregates And Forms A Storm, Chakra Khan

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Send comments to Hjemland (BETA) | Report this review (#212445)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Innovative mixture of 70s classic bands' styles and the result is supreme debut album

Bantam to Behemoth is the debut album by Birds and Buildings. This band begins its life without very much popularity, but with their first album they surely gained it. Dan Britton and Brett d'Anon are also known from other older band called Deluge Drander.

Recently, there is a tendency toward making albums with the sound of 70s. Bantam to Behemoth is not exception. The sound is built in completely classic manner (it's hinted from the cover art, yet). As I prefer to say sometimes it's going to become a milestone of the genre for the future. And this album deserve it. The musicianship is exceptionally excellent, just perfect. Drumming style is completely stunning just like Genesis'. Mellotron is so dramatic and full of dynamic sharp tunes. Bass is as powerful as Yes'. Saxophone is as masterly as King Crimson's.

The constancy of the album is remarkable. All songs are above the term of very good (just perfect), which makes the album absolute 5 stars for me.

There is an interesting moment here. This is first american band to sound completely like United Kingdon band in the world of progressive/hard/classic rock, I've ever heard. So I can call this album like the album of wishes. If you like King Crimson - your songs are Birds Flying Into Buildings, Chakra Khan and Battalion; if you like Genesis - your songs are Caution Congregates and Forms a Storm and Chronicle of the Invisible River of Stone; if you like Gentle Giant, Camel and King Crimson - your song is Tunguska; if you like Camel - your song is Terra Fire. This album won't miss the lovers of Yes, too - their song here is Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass. The end of the album is for Pink Floyd fans with Sunken City, Sunny Day. As whole, for you is Bantam to Behemoth in this case.

These are just simple examples of what does this album means - modern encyclopedia of progressive rock and time machine of progressive rock as well. Birds and Buildings are very innovative, without being a thieves. They just compose in little forgotten way. I'm expecting the next BB journey.

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Send comments to poslednijat_colobar (BETA) | Report this review (#215285)
Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars At the time of writing this album is No. 7 in Prog Archives' Top Ten of the best albums of 2008. Nevertheless, it has received only 27 ratings (presumably the number will rise by one when I post my review), which is very little compared to other Top Ten albums, like the ones by Opeth (183 ratings!), Pendragon (127) and even Beardfish (80).

There can only be one conclusion: BANTAM TO BEHEMOTH has enjoyed exceptional esteem among Prog Archives' seasoned reviewers, but the album is virtually unknown to the prog-loving public at large.

Well, prog-loving public, you still have the chance to make up for a terrible oversight. Check out your nearest music provider and order a copy of Birds and Buildings' bewitching debut today. You won't regret it! The music is altogether more approachable than the usual fare served up by leader/composer Dan Britton's OTHER band, Deluge Grander: melodies are sweeter, beats more enticing, and the many contributions by flautist/saxophonist Brian Falkowski result in a warmer, more humane, more organic sound.

There are at least two characteristics Birds and Buildings share with Deluge Grander. (1) In spite of moments of sheer loveliness, most of the tunes are longish, full of variety and not very catchy. (2) Much of the music sounds restless and doom-laden (without being overly aggressive in a Prog Metal kind of way); it also seems much concerned with the rise and fall of civilisations. If your debut album sports song titles such as "Birds Flying into Buildings", "Terra Fire" and "Sunken City, Sunny Day", it doesn't take a lot imagination to view you as a typical post-9/11 band.

There are those who describe Birds and Buildings as Zeuhl-influenced. (Britton is known to be a Magma fan.) Since I'm not too familiar with Zeuhl, I presume its influence can be felt mainly in the repetitive riffing, which is (in my opinion) this album's only drawback: I sometimes wish the band would cut those extensive middle sections a little shorter. I see no reason to call B & B "jazzy" (virtually all of their music uses a steady rock beat) or a "Canterbury" one. It's not easy to put your finger on their pulse... Because of the lush keyboards and the romantic moods, I'm especially inclined to compare B & B to 1970s Genesis, but THEY never used a Didier Malherbe style saxophone, did they? And because of the restless riffing I'm (once again) reminded of "The Gates of Delirium" (just as I was with Deluge Grander)...

Anyhow, BANTAM TO BEHEMOTH features sophisticated, multi-coloured music that will surprise and delight you for years. It's radically different from gonzoid hard rock but there's nothing fey about it either. You can tell it is written and performed by passionate, driven musicians. (I mustn't forget to praise the drummer and the bassist: you could spend the whole album just enjoying what THEY do.) Let's hope there will be many more Birds and Buildings albums to come.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#220039)
Posted Saturday, June 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars 1)Most complex sounding noise ever (at least speaking about first track) 2)I'm hell right that this is a masterpiece. Only thing to accomplish is to prove it. 3)It's very strange, I've never been so sure (2nd) that clicking on five star, reading disclaimer and trying to explain this choice, was right choice. 4)My apologies, it's not noise, it's jazz fusion (just joke)

"Birds Flying Into Building", what a perfect name. It resembles cover art, which is another thing to talk about. I better start with telling story from beginning. This weird painting on cover is not original one. Hieronymus Bosch, 15th century painter from Netherlands once created masterpiece of his genre, called "The Garden of Earthly Delights". It's quite large one and this cover is maybe 1/30 of it. I knew it since time I first seen this record. But something wasn't right here, something was different. So I did few tests, conducted some research (you know, laboratory, big university teams, these things) and truth is quite shocking, as it is easy. It's horizontally flipped. One Czech prog band, Progres 2 is their name, do have song about this man, called (in translation) "Planet of Hieronymuss Bosch" and which is very weird one, even more than weirdness of this painting. Speaking of which, this Birds album ends this circle somehow. Everything fits perfectly and pieces are in place. Oh yes, this picture is one of two pictures in my room. Other one is Hell, also by him. Every part of it is well known for me, every animal, person, plant, colour, everything has its place and meaning. I wonder how he avoided being tortured, beheaded or burned at stake by inquisition (all these demons which he created, so long ago, in dark times of mediev(i)al ages).

So again (consider it as take two, it never happened to me yet that I would have to start talking about song again because I forgot to talk about IT, but this review is unique - mostly for me), "Birds Flying Into Building", is epo-picturous track (something like eponymous, but not with name of album, but picture of album, but feel free not to believe me, because I've just created this word and it sounds so funny/nice to me that I'll keep it). Just look att the picture, you'll see a swarm of birds flying through some structure, whose base structure looks like some hut (you know, these walls, hole inside), or cave maybe. Or (his imagination was wild) something completely different (although my imagination just drawn this from Monty Python as most of us know). And labyrinth/cave like structure on top of it. They're flying and song itself is running. And it's run of madman, trying to get away from all his troubles, but then, reversely (3:29-3:49) is something similar. He's still trying to run away, but now he's like in fast car on open highway (or coastline road), accelerating as much as possible, riding his Cadillac, wind tormenting (sorry, devilish influence of this thing, I meant ruffling) his hair. But that's just one more clear to see part, see how is very first part more and more complex, structuring itself (00:00-00:56), which I see as perfect example of JazzRockFusion genre. Then we get some rest, but not for too long, just few seconds of peace, before hell breaks free to even more layers. And more and more, it seems that your brain could make big KaBoom in any second from this rush, from this attack of pure prog sounds (their perfection is still present, even it's melodic and interesting in every moment), this head-on interception of never ending (story?) flow of sounds. Well, I wrote that some songs were flowing easily in past reviews. It's true. One sure thing about this is that is flows. Maybe rushes. But easily ? Also, but differently, that you would expect. Or perhaps you wouldn't expect nothing less than fire sweeping miles along where these 9 minutes and 12 seconds full of music "flowed".

As I said, cover is a important thing. I think that entire record is inspired by this image. Some are more, some are less (it's my theory, it may be true, or not, but at least it's nice sounding one). Genesis tried with their first album to resemble biblical themes with bigger version of original painting. They quite failed, or at least wasn't so successful as they could be.

Other songs are similar, some walks in softer way, others in as hard as first one. There are again relaxing parts. Whole record is with ideas under roof filled overcrowded house full of people who all wants to say something so they shout all together. And it works pretty fine. Sometimes they are quiet and just few of them talks (these are rare times). OK, this thing about inspiration from this artwork is disputable.

Can I give something else, anything less than 5 stars ?

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#235273)
Posted Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my first review. I hope I express my thoughts clearly and help determine your views on Bantam To Behemoth. I found myself coming to Birds And Buildings' Prog Archives page nearly everyday just to hear the opening track over and over again; I had to buy the album. After listening, I found myself a tad disappointed. The intensity of the first track isn't found anywhere else on the album. All of the tracks are well layered but don't flow extremely well, though they are each fairly well composed. Many of the longer songs are sprawled with acoustic guitar arpeggios (which I don't particularly enjoy). Though lacking the intensity of the first track, the music remains just as complex. Symphonic prog fans will likely enjoy the album. I can hear the influence of 70's King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Magma, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and even a little bit of Return to Forever. The bass playing is phenomenal. The keyboard offers a variety of sounds and often takes the lead role (I'm not sure that is a mellotron Dan is playing though). The guitar playing is sloppy at times, but gets the job done. I wouldn't change a thing with the drumming. Brian Falkowski is great. The vocals seem unnecessary. But hey, the album is 70 minutes long. Birds and Buildings have given a great effort.

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Send comments to Tengent (BETA) | Report this review (#241798)
Posted Sunday, September 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a fabulous album. I really didn't know whether to give it a four or five star review. Probably 4.5 stars, but since the software requires you to pick, a 5 it is. This is complex music and therefore harder to get into than much other prog. It also helps if you have been exposed to fusion jazz.

The songs on this album are varied, complex, and just marvelous. Some are melodic, while others not so much. The keyboard work is great, as is the other instruments. Some people claim that this is retro prog, but I have to agree with Dan Britton, the leader of this group, that it is really not. Compared to groups like Beardfish, who I love, but are clearly attempting to do retroprog, this is quite different. Sure it builds on the 1970s stuff, but it is different enough to avoid the retro label (not that there is anything wrong with that label).

I think the cover of this album is a very good one. Not only does it call to mind the band's Birds and Buildings name, but it captures the swirl of the music, which one experiences listening to the album.

Really, a great album!

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Send comments to Rip Van ProgWinkle (BETA) | Report this review (#255544)
Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars [Review 7] Birds and Buildings - Bantom to Behemoth

An onslaught of saxophone, guitar, bass, percussion, keyboards and mellotron, this album should instead be called Behemoth to Behemoth as the music slams into the listener with wave after wave of instrumental density, intricacy and intensity from beginning to end. If I didn't know better, I would just assume this was a modern-day King Crimson album. Here is why:

1) King Crimson in a way was a study of contrasts. Unlike the other bands of the 70s, King Crimson deftly moved between order and chaos, ugliness and beauty, melancholy and bliss. Larks' Tongue, a chaotic and brutal track, gives way to Book of Saturday, a track as beautiful as any Genesis song. Birds and Building does the exact same thing. The aptly- titled Birds Flying into Buildings is a monster of a track that transitions from order to chaos to order numerous times and gives way to the beautiful tracks that make up the center of the album.

2) Just as King Crimson was not beholden to a genre, Birds and Buildings plays around with symphonic, jazz, and Zeuhl as well as some more calming atmospheres in the center of the album.

3) Just like King Crimson, every musician on this album demonstrates their unique and exceptional skills. I may be prone to exaggeration, but I honestly feel I have not heard drums (McDuffie) this forceful and intricate since the height of the 70s prog giants. The saxophone (Falkowski) is reminiscent of King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator, a tool of both beauty and ugliness. The mellotron (Britton), normally an instrument of somberness or epic grandeur, is absolutely menacing and haunting. While the guitar and bass (d'Anon) are usually behind the saxophone and the keyboards in the mix, they are essential to the fullness of each track and transitions from section to section, often giving a jazzy feel to the music. These descriptions are an injustice to the musicians however, given that each instrument is used for a multitude of moods and styles. Honestly, every instrument is absolutely key to this album and is played with such skill that each player is irreplaceable ? and that is the markings of a great band.

For me, it is quite difficult to describe this music. It is impossible for me to describe the range of mood and styles Birds and Buildings leads the listener through over the course of an hour. This is not retro prog. In my opinion, Bantom to Behemoth is a modern-day King Crimson in attitude, but not sound, and is easily one of the best prog albums since the fall of the 70s giants. My only qualm is that due to the density of the music, an hour of it can be a bit rough, but I'll blame that on 80-minute CDs, not the artist.

Highlights: Birds Flying into Buildings, Chakra Khan, Battalion

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Send comments to Kestrel (BETA) | Report this review (#259610)
Posted Wednesday, January 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars An outstanding surprise of dense instrumental complexity and tireless creativitiy, all wrapped up in a classic prog vaneer. Bantam to Behemoth cranks out energetic and eccentric prog-rock from start to finish with an almost peerless combination of playing chops and love of the genre.

This largely instrumental album combines elements of many iconic prog sounds of yore, mixed up in and energized with a jazzy intensity which positively roars with esoteric class. I'll be honest: many people will find Bantam to Behemoth noisy, directionless, and unmemorable; however, this album is masterfully performed prog-rock, never approaching the chaos of the avant garde. Rather, Birds and Buildings seems to be simultaneously paying homage to-- and expanding on ideas pioneered during the progressive rock's heyday. The intensity rivals that of King Crimson's Starless and Red days; the symphonic passages hearken back to Gensis best work; the proliferation and excellence of the sax work brings Van Der Graff Generator to mind... the list goes on. But the cool thing about Bantam to Behemoth is the enthusiasm which the players use this inspiration to create a sonic assult of such density that it can, at times, overwhelm the listener (in a satisfying way).

This isn't to say that the album is all noise, all the time-- quite the opposite. The dynamics are excellent throughout, as is the songwriting. At times frantic, at others understated, the variety here will take the listener on a journey. There are moments where the sound swells to something truly enormus, such as the driving "Yucatan 65" with its latin grooves and fat bass sound; others will leave the listener feeling mellow and relaxed. The star of the show though, is the band's virtuousity. Their tight playing and creativity really shines; one could listen to only a single instrument with each listen and be impressed, and the varied instrumentation makes all of them together sound especially unique.

If you're a fan of fusion or a powerful symphonic prog sound then do not hesitate checking this one out! It's sure to alienate friends who enjoy the mainstream and lighten the hearts of all who love the the prog spirit!

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: NA (while present vocals play an insignificant role in the overall effect) Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#271156)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Textbook (BETA) | Report this review (#271960)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars What a letdown for such a highly rated album. I was genuinely excited when this dropped through the door - according to previous reviews it should be right up my street - a combination of symphonic prog with plenty of jazzy inflections, with a sound palette that would be right up Tony Banks's street. What went wrong?

Well we really have to start with the vocals. OK much of the album is instrumental, but the vocals do start to play a more significant role in the second half and.....ye gads!! Prog followers are, out of necessity, unusually tolerant to weak vocals but this really is something else. The male vocals are a dull nasal drone, out of tune at times and with so little passion that they sound like they're simply reading the lyrics off a script. If the musicians had just picked a random passer-by off the street they could more than likely have improved the vocal performance on this album. This is not acceptable if you intend to charge actual money for your music.

The second problem is the nature of the compositions. There are many moments where a good tune seems about to break through and be developed before being whisked off back to the maelstrom of tune fragments. There is no sense of progression, of themes being developed. I could accept this if the music was aiming for the fiery passion and insistence of jazz-fusion bands such as Elephant9, but no - it is a much more measured scientific vibe which makes the lack of structure or themes just seem strange and rather boring. The most heartbreaking is the fourth track, which spends ten minutes arriving at a great little melody but then, when it finally gets there, finishes immediately. A very unfocused effort.

Is there anything to enjoy on this album for me? Well yes there is certainly some musical virtuosity in display here - most notably from the excellent wind section, but this can only secure the album a solid 2 stars.

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Send comments to JonnyM79 (BETA) | Report this review (#279021)
Posted Thursday, April 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have very mixed feelings about this album. It has musicianship and composition of the highest level. It has many, many familiar-yet-"forgotten" sounds magically and often surprisingly exhumed from the 1970's prog scene. It has highly complicated and often unpredictabily shifting song structures. It is mostly instrumental (and when vocals are used they are strangely treated and/or mixed into the music. It is synthesizing many many familiar music styles from YES to GENESIS to KING CRIMSON to Canterbury to CHICK COREA Spanish/Latino, even to Zeuhl (frenetic drumming) and MIKE OLDFIELD. But in the end it's just too busy, too frenetic, not engaging enough for me. 1. "Birds Flying into Buildings" opens the album at quite a pace and with a rather annoying choice for bass sound. While I like and appreciate the use of jazz sounds and instruments (here saxes, Farfisa organ, Fender Rhodes electric piano, hollow-bodied guitar picking), it's just overdone and too chaotic (for my enjoyment) here. Get off the amphetamines and slow down and I might enjoy it. 5/10

2. "Terra Fire" begins in a kind of minimalist, dreamy jazz way while the vocalist of the Dracula/Peter Cushing School sings about who knows what underneath the music. The music of this (luckily) brief song isn't even very engaging. And the bass is mixed and effected annoyingly. Kind of like some of CHRIS SQUIRE's worst recordings. 4/10

3. "Tunguska" is an impressive song with too many familiar sounds and styles to enumerate. Wow! What a trip! 9/10

4. "Caution Congregates and Forms a Storm" a song beginning with a very New Age Spanish flare (cue GOVI or BRUCE BECVAR) though, of course, it moves into many other directions--in a very "eclectic"-meets-symphonic way. A song with many pretty, though often ever-so-briefly explored themes and riffs. 8/10

5. "Chronicle of the Invisible River of Stone" is another WILLOWGLASS revives ANT PHILLIPS' GENESIS song with some strangely mixed and less-than-enthused female vocals (sounding very much like CRYSTAL GAYLE or NICOLETTE LARSEN mixed with a little ANNETTE PEACOCK). The song proceeds very much like a STEVE HACKETT dream sequence--very unpredictable and often light-hearted musical shifts. A tough song to rate--like a lot of this album--so many moods and themes that it makes the song difficult to assess much less remember. 7/10

6. "Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass" is a nice STEVE HOWE plays over a WILLOWGLASS Spanish tango. The range of instrumental sounds these guys drag up from out of the archives of early 70's music--both with keyboards and guitar effects--is absolutely amazing. In spite of this--and not unlike ANDREW MARSHALL's WILLOWGLASS works--this one gets a little mired down in repetition and contrivance. 7/10

7. Chakra Khan" is a bit too frenetically paced for my tastes. It is very jazz-based though it has a very straightforward beat. The question here is: Just how fast does one need to go? While I appreciate speed, I'm not a Ferrari-Porsche guy. 5/10

8. Battalion" is, again, just too hyped up JOE JACKSON pseudo jazz for me. Let me out! I can't take it anymore! 4/10

9. "Sunken City, Sunny Day" is a very pretty, slow, mostly acoustic song with nearly unintelligible samples of a British man's recorded speech (Sounds like the dude BILL NELSON and DAVID SYLVIAN used speech samples of in many of their songs.) Interesting way to end such a dynamic album. 7/10

Overall, an impressive set of performances but of music(s) that I just don't feel attracted to. 3.5 stars (rated up for musicianship, composition, and admirable revival of many old prog sounds).

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#295533)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars An album which can not be described with the current linguistic perception of human kind...Yes I have exaggerated it a little bit and just a little bit.

Bantam to Behemoth is the best of the recent surprises of progressive rock world. Dan Britton sure deserves a lot of respect and this album is just one of the answers why. An endless ambition for creativity lasts for the whole album. Energy of the album surrounds the listener from the beginning and it just never goes away. Jazzy drumming, crying saxophone with amazing guitar and keyboard work..The experimental vocal try outs may sound weird at the beginning, but as the album flows by one can easily get used to them as they are highly compatible with the general mood of the album.

Birds flying into buildings, terra fire and and yucatan 65: the agitation of the mass are my favorite songs in the album. Do not miss it!

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Send comments to omardiyejon (BETA) | Report this review (#301774)
Posted Sunday, October 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars As far as I'm concerned, the whole concept of genre-bending, or "fusion," is a lot deeper than just slapping different sounds together. You want to make folk-rap, you don't just have Eminem sample a Simon and Garfunkle song. Similarly, if you want to blend jazz and prog, you can't just have a sax play over some mellotron chords; that's superficial. You want real fusion, you've got to dig deeper, you've got to get into the philosophy, the spirit, behind each style of music, and mix it all together into a new creation. You want real fusion, you want to listen to Birds and Buildings.

These guys got it right. They're a mixture of mostly symphonic prog and jazz, with some zeuhl elements tossed in, and they get right to the core of each. They take the tight compositional elements and sweeping, emotional drama of symph prog and merge it seamlessly with the soulful improvisational freedom of jazz, and the result is some of the most creative music I've ever heard, technically compelling and emotionally stirring. Fourth-stream jazz, maybe?

The tracks vary in their level of diversity, like some sort of sonic kaleidoscope covering all sorts of shades of jazz/rock. This is one of the album's greatest feats - the fact that it can shift so effortlessly without ever losing its flow is truly admirable. Some parts are just pure symph prog, and yet they never sound out of place for a second. And that's just in terms of genre. The way these guys can shape your emotions - I've felt stuff listening to this album that I've never felt before. They've tapped on something new, something otherwise unknown, and it sends shivers down my spine.

You want to hear an album that's breaking ground without forgetting to pay homage to where it came from, then pick up Bantom to Behemoth. This may be one of the most important prog records of the last ten years.

I don't want to ruin the experience for people, but if you're looking for some highlights, the complexity and creativity of the opener, the shimmering beauty of Chronicle... and the spinebreaking intensity of the solo in Battalion are well worth the price of admission all on their own.

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Send comments to KingCrimson250 (BETA) | Report this review (#303916)
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For a first time I heard Birds and Buildings on Emkog sampler. I liked those few songs, and at first possibility I just decided to listen their full album (the only for today).

Album's opener is absolutely great heavy symphonic fusion composition, melodic,complex, nervous, with perfect guitar on the first half, and fantastic sax melodic line contouring (a la Klaus Doldinger on early Passport albums). If album's compositions were like this, album would be a real masterpiece!

"Terra Fire" is good song, complex and melodic, with Dan's vocals (ok, vocals are not stronger element there). Less symphonic, more fusion, but this time with some mellow (or pop) elements. "Tunguska" starts as mix between later synth-pop Camel and new age,but soon become more complex,energetic. I still don't like this song too much (later Camel is far not my beloved band, plus same vocals and even some bombastic arrangements!).

" Caution Congregates and Forms a Storm " starts as ballade but continues as symphonic rock instrumental very soon. " Chronicle of the Invisible River of Stone" is more relaxed,even slightly melancholic song with female vocals. Reminds a bit some Oldfield songs (just a bit more complex).

On "Chakra Khan" music returns to zeulish sound of album's opener. Almost pure zeuhl composition, it still isn't so great as "Birds Flying Into Buildings", but just confirms, what is the band's strongest side. "Battalion" is zeuhl-influenced song,possibly not so original though.

"Sunken City, Sunny Day" ,album's closer, is down tempo keyboards-based symphonic/new age song, enough tasteful, but possibly not the best final for such great album.

In all, this album is great one, but very eclectic as well. Possibly, Dan Britton tried to attract too wide listener,adding so different compositions in one album. If all the album sounded as zeuhl influenced opener (and two more songs of the same direction), it could be a really great release for fans of zeuhl. Some other compositions are more symphonic/synth-based prog oriented, and usual such listener will hardly accept zeuhl or more complex jazz fusion.

In all cases, really good release. I will wait for the next one with real interest!

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#337685)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I've wanted to write about this album for some months now and never quite found the right words to describe my feelings for it. I have an immense respect for the mastermind behind it, Dan Britton, and the various works he's been involved in that I've had the pleasure of hearing. Of them, Birds and Buildings is the one that seems to have earned the most praise, and to my ears this is rightly so.

The opening track "Birds Flying Into Buildings" lives up both to it's own name and that of the album. There are so many notes flying around it's impossible to believe that as a listener you don't feel lost - that as players the band is able to hold it all together with such skill. Yet this does not sound like a shred fest, like disjointed noise, but like a coherent, strong, amazing, jazzy, symphonic, keyboardy, saxy, sexy, dynamic, noisy, elegant piece of music. It's one of those rare tracks that are so strong, the rest of the album almost becomes irrelevant because it is already worth the purchase based on the one song.

You know one thing I loved about Yes? I loved that they had the balls to call a track "Siberian Khatru". I have no idea what that even means, but it sounds cool, the music is great, and you know there's a certain subset of people who, if they found out you were listening to a song called "Siberian Khatru", would have to hear it themselves just to get a glimpse, maybe, at what a Khatru is. There's a certain feeling associated with a cool sounding, yet difficult to understand, song name. Well, Dan must have thought so too, for this album is full of tracks whose name evoke that mysterious-yet-cool feel. Tracks 4-6 are especially impressive, with "Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass" standing out (and reminding again of Yes' Total Mass Retain section in Close to the Edge).

Of course, cool sounding track names can easily become huge disappointments if the music doesn't live up to the mystique. Well, the music on this album does. It doesn't take long for the band to show that on top of the chaos that they are somehow in complete control of, they also know how to be beautiful, even delicate - often, at the same time as the chaos! - songs. Tunguska is an excellent example of this; while the music may be ever changing, the lines complex and never straight forward in their delivery, while ominous sounds abound, this track has an eerie beauty about it. It is also one of the better examples of Dan's vocals on this album, being recorded in such a way that they blend in with the instruments instead of standing above, a fact that gives them a unique feel. Dan's vocal abilities certainly aren't the most technically impressive, but Dan knows his own limits, so works with what he can do instead of pushing himself too far. The result are somewhat airy, layered vocals that really work well with the music.

Two other tracks that I find particularly worth pointing out are Chronicles of the Invisible River of Stone (featuring the lovely vocals of Meghan Wheatley, and probably the most beautiful track on the album) and Battalion (which features some amazing lyrics as well, my favorite in that respect, on top of being amazing musically).

The album is, from beginning until the somewhat surreal ending spoken-words of the last track, a treasure, a truly great listen, and in my mind the best thing Dan Britton has done so far.

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Send comments to TheGazzardian (BETA) | Report this review (#366915)
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Bantam To Behemoth" is the debut full-length studio album by progressive rock act Birds and Buildings. The album was released through Emkog Records in 2008. Birds and Buildings features members from Cerebus Effect and Deluge Grander.

The music on the album is a very eclectic mix of progressive rock, prog folk and jazz rock/fusion. I hear influences from as different acts as Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa (1973-75), Kaipa and Genesis in the music, but it's hard to pin down one specific influence as the music is very diverse and quite intriguing too. The variation is great and there are both beautiful symphonic passages, mellow prog folky ones and some really challenging jazz rock/fusion parts too.

The musicianship is outstanding on the album. Keyboards, saxophone, flute and clarinet colour the music in addition to the more regular rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums. The music is mostly instrumental and that's probably a good idea because when the male vocals occasionally pop up they sound a bit like a drowsy John Wetton. It helps a bit when they put some psychadelic sounding effects on the vocals but still the vocals are the weak link on the album. "Chronicle of the Invisible River of Stone" features female vocals which unfortunately arent´that interesting either. Fortunately the tracks are all of high quality and the pretty standard fare vocals don't ruin my listening experience even though I wish the band would have chosen a more interesting vocal style.

The sound production is really well sounding. It's seldom that you hear an album from 2008 with a warm and "authentic" 70s influenced sound like this. Great production job indeed.

Despite my minor complaints about the vocals, "Bantam To Behemoth" is an extremely impressive debut album by Birds and Buildings. It´s obvious that these guys are pretty seasoned musicians and composers and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#408422)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
m2thek
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It gets hard to review an album when you've listened to it 40 or 50 times. You start to accept its faults and the things that used to excite you merely become comforting to listen to. While Bantam to Behemoth is one of these albums for me, I feel that in honor of Multipurpose Trap coming out this year, I have to justify my absurd amount of spins of this and review one of my favorites.

Bantam to Behemoth is the debut album from Birds and Buildings, one of Dan Britton's many projects. For those familiar with Dan's other band, Deluge Grander, I feel that this is a logical bridge between their first and second albums. Not as symphonic as August in the Urals, but not quite as layered and intricate as The Form of the Good. For those not familiar with these bands, you can expect some pretty crazy and fast music.

This album in particular is at its best when the band is going a mile a minute, quickly trading off passages between the guitar, sax, and one of the many keyboard sounds. The opening track is by far the best to be found here, and is an incredible introduction to everything that the band can do. There is a really driving harmony played on a mallet- sounding keyboard, and a strong melody that gets tossed around between every instrument throughout its 9 minutes. The energy starts off high, and really never drops as the song weaves its way through its passages.

Smartly, not every track is like this; that would certainly be an overload. The next three songs present a lot of really different textures and feel from the opener, and it's impressive to see the range of the band. The middle three songs consist of slower developing passages, which serve as a nice break from the fast-paced songs that bookmark the album. However, they do start to drag a little, as the middle of the album takes up half of the time, and it seems long overdue when the energy really kicks back in. A couple of these songs actually sound like they would fit in better with another of Dan's projects, All Over Everywhere, which is not a negative point, but they sound a little out of place here.

In addition to this, although Bantam to Behemoth is largely instrumental, the occasional vocal passage does aid to break up the music and create diversity. Unfortunately, the quality of the vocals doesn't match that of the instruments, but luckily they're not pushed up so high in the mix so that they take away too much from the music they are over. Most of the singing is handled by Dan himself, but there is a female guest on one song, which is nice. The lyrical content is interesting, and if you're willing to put some time into deciphering it and the artwork, there's a cool little story to be found.

While Bantam to Behemoth may have been better without the middle tracks and less singing, that doesn't stop it from being one of my favorite albums. It has a lot of really great and exciting music, with something new to be discovered on each and every listen. This album is a great addition for any prog fan, and hopefully their second album can live up to the high expectations set by this one.

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Send comments to m2thek (BETA) | Report this review (#412279)
Posted Sunday, March 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is furious. Right from the get-go, this album starts to swing you by your ears with frantic musicianship of the highest quality. The overall sound here is like a mixture of The Mars Volta and King Crimson.

I honestly hoped to enjoy this album quite a bit, because I read somewhere that this was very jazz-fusion inspired eclectic progressive rock. I don't read much from the jazz-fusion area on this album, but it does sound to me like a much more frantic and sax-strong Red-era King Crimson. There is some jazz influence here, but mostly of the post-bop variety. The production on this album is some of the worst I've ever heard. It sounds like they wanted to make this album sound vintage, but it came out sounding like vintage and recorded in someone's garage. The sparse vocals are buried so deep in the mix that whatever the lyrics are, they are completely incomprehensible.

This is a decent listen, but I wouldn't really recommend it to too many people.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#431218)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Birds and Buildings: Bantam to Behemoth [2008]

Rating: 8/10

This debut from Dan Britton's project Birds and Buildings created quite a stir within the prog community upon its release. Britton is an American multi-instrumentalist who gained a minor reputation with his previous project Deluge Grander. However, Bantam to Behemoth is my first experience with Britton's work, so I don't have anything to compare it to. Heavy jazz-fusion describes much of the material, but an amalgamation of various diverse influences is displayed here, ranging from Genesis to King Crimson to Magma. I even hear some progressive metal influences, particularly in the song structure of the heavier tracks. Excepting the softer tracks, this album can almost be described as "'21st Century Schizoid Man' Meets Liquid Tension Experiment." The term "eclectic prog" fits Bantam to Behemoth perfectly; despite some flaws, it manages to be a compelling release full of exciting instrumentation, fiery musicianship, and inspired composition.

The opening track "Birds Flying Into Buildings" is a mind-blowing nine-minute blast of heavy fusion. Even the Mellotron in this song manages to be intense, and the keyboard and sax work is superb. It's impossible not to be fully attentive while listening to this. "Terra Fire" calms things down a bit. There's some solid guitar/sax interplay here, but this track also introduces what I consider to be the weakest aspect of this album: the vocals. Britton is a fantastic instrumentalist and composer, but he's no singer. The vocals here are flat and emotionless, and they're mixed into the background as if they don't want to be heard. "Tunguska" brings back the heavy jazz-rock, but with tuned-down intensity. The vocals are dull yet again, but a sublime keyboard solo makes this a nonissue. "Caution Congrates and Forms a Storm" takes a while to build up, with acoustic guitar and piano dominating the first half. It picks up the pace later on, with more excellent keyboard work, and even a cool bass solo. For the most part, though, this is an average track when compared to some of the better material on the album. "Chronicle of the Invisible River of Stone" is the mellowest track here, and may also be the weakest. It is by no means a bad song, but I think that Britton works much better with more intense and fast-paced material. The female guest's vocals here are just as unenthusiastic as Britton's. Things greatly improve with "Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass." This is the best track on the album. A lot of it has a strong Middle-Eastern/Oriental feel, with flute and acoustic guitar en masse. The intense conclusion creates one of the best moments on the album. "Charkra Khan" continues with the super-charged jazz-rock, with an infectious groove to accompany the madness."Battalion" features some amazing jazzy piano and guitar playing. The drums are also particularly notable here. "Sunken City, Sunny Day" is a short Mellotron-laden concluding piece.

Dan Britton and company have created an excellent modern prog album with Bantam to Behemoth. As stated before, the influences are diverse and the material is eclectic, but this doesn't stop the album from achieving stylistic cohesion and a unique identity. However, there are flaws here that can't be ignored. First and foremost are the vocals. I honestly can't understand why this album wasn't kept entirely instrumental. Not only does this type of music not accommodate vocals particularly well, but the vocals themselves are flat and dull. They detract from the music despite the fact that they're practically mixed into nonexistence. The mellower and more folky tracks are another flaw. Britton simply isn't as talented when it comes to that type of music; he succeeds so much better within the context of intense Crimsonian jazz-fusion. Some composers are good at building atmosphere, but Britton is not one of them. Regardless, this manages to be an immensely enjoyable and rewarding release despite its flaws. I hope that this project has a long and bright future ahead of it.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#476291)
Posted Tuesday, July 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Imagine if National Health, the Mothers of Invention, mid-1970s King Crimson and perhaps Magma were all in the same tour bus and they had a really nasty crash, and you were tasked with cobbling the bits together into a functional band. The resultant Frankenstein's monster of a group would probably still not sound quite as strange as Birds and Buildings, but you'd be most of the way there. Presenting an eclectic, heavy, and relentlessly fast-paced brand of avant-progressive rock on this debut album, the band bring a fresh and new approach to the jazzier end of RIO, and if I namedropped any more prog styles on here you'd probably think I was making this review up. But I'm not - they really do integrate all that different territory into a novel, coherent sound which makes this one of the most exciting prog debut albums of the past decade.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#768815)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I received this in the mail, I was surprised by the getto looking low-resolution cover art. For a second there I doubted this album. I can assure you though, despite this, this album is pure gold. I am surprised this isn't ranked much higher to be honest. The first track is probably the best, but the rest of the album follows through at the same level of prog awesomeness. The musicianship is unbelievable, especially on the faster paced songs. There is little singing and when there is its nothing special unfortunately, but the music more than makes up for this. I highly recommend this album for fans of any genre of prog. 4.97 stars.

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Send comments to pfloyd (BETA) | Report this review (#866832)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars HOLY CRAP!!!

...and I don't say that often. It took me a couple of minutes to adjust to the avalanche of noise coming through my headphones upon listening to the first track of Birds and Buildings's debut album "Bantam to Behemoth." After getting used to the onslaught of sound somewhere in the middle of the song, I started the song over in my CD player. Now that I tuned my brain into Dan Britton's behemoth, I started the song fresh. It is lterally amazing what is going on in this song. It is incredibly complex and extremely intense. It redefines what is meant by a "wall of sound."

After the wild ride of the first track, songs begin to show a mix of mellowness, more of Britton's craziness, and some solid numbers mixing in ample amounts of jazz rock/fusion and symphonic prog, with an amalgam of other styles thrown in, making this a delightful eclectic listen. Comparing this band with others is almost pointless. There are some references to King Crimson, Magma, The Mars Volta, and even a little bit of Genesis, but that hardly seems to scratch the surface.

This album blew me away upon first listen. After repeated listens, many of the songs grew even stronger, but alas, a couple of weak spots began to show. The one that is most obvious are the vocals and their delivery. Their often drowned in the chaos, seem out of place at times, and are delivered in an almost mumbling spoken form. Generally they're incomprehensible and no lyrics were provided in the insert. By incomprehensible, I don't mean they make no sense, I mean they cannot be heard correctly. No big deal though, as the vocals are quite sparse. Overall, I don't think this one weakness brings down this masterpiece, but I only mention it for the sake of listeners that have issues with this.

But buckle up your seatbelts, because you will surely need them. It's like driving your 1975 Cadillac Eldorado into a supermassive black hole and anything that gives me that feeling deserves a worthy five stars. Nice job, Mr. Britton. I'm looking forward to the next B&B release.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#933220)
Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing, one of the greatest albums i have ever heard by an underground act. Sometimes you find a piece of art: a film, an album or a book, that feels so perfect and mastercrafted that you can hardly believe that human beings were involved in the creation of it. This album is definitely such a work of art for me. The opening track is a 9 minute example of perfection. Every instrument from flute to sax to mellotron is playing its part perfectly, and despite the breakneck pace, they never run out of ideas. As soon as they are done with one theme they move on to the next with NO pointless noodling! The sound of this Ecletic Jazz Rock band is reminiscent of Area and Mr.Bungle and if you know my relation to those two bands then you know that that is one if the greatest compliments i can give you.

The only thing on this album that i had a beef with on my first listen, was the vocals. They sound rather akward and confused, but after careful consideration i have realized that however they sound, they are perfect for this album. An operatic Jon Andersson/ Peter Gabriel style singer would simply have ruined it.

It it sounds like im fawning, thats because i am and so should you, with good reason. "Bantam To Behemoth" really is that good.

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Send comments to Knapitatet (BETA) | Report this review (#957496)
Posted Saturday, May 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This group arrived like a kind of UFO in my musical sky : technical, intricate, extremely subtile compositions and very high level musianship. A kind of perfect integration of jazz elements in prog, the result being absolutely not jazz-rock but pure prog music.

Perpetual changes, intense energy catch you and take you for a long run in infinite labyrinths. You take a direction and you soon have to change it for a new one. Nevertheless, you are always confortably sat in a deep armchair and discover new landscapes, new colours.

Sometimes you feel you have found inedit pieces from King Crimson's "Islands" sessions and you ask yourself : maybe these archives are still better. Sometimes, you feel you are somewhere between Magma and the Mahavishnu Orchestra ! Then, an atmospheric moment drawn by synths and light piano make you float closer to the serenity of Anthony Philips or maybe Willow White. It won't last?

Impressive, even fascinating at many respects. 4,5 stars.

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Send comments to Kjarks (BETA) | Report this review (#1066451)
Posted Saturday, October 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
4 stars Superb US side-project, evolving from the core of the excellent Deluge Grander.The leader Dan Britton handles the keyboards and some guitars and brings with him Brett D'Anon on bass/guitars and Brian Falkowski on sax, clarinet and flute.A new face, drummer Malcolm McDuffie, completes the line-up.The debut of Birds and Buildings under the title ''Bantam to Behemoth'' was recorded at various studios around Washington DC and was released in 2008, the second product of Britton's own Emkog Records.

Words are poor to describe Birds and Buildings' frenetic and extremely dense musicianship.Let's start by saying that they sound like a much jazzier version of DELUGE GRANDER with emphasis on music and without significant vocal presence, although symphonic hints are not absent either.Falkowski plays a major role in the group's sound.His tremendous work on clarinet and saxophone reveals a schizophenic sound with aggresive solos, loose themes and powerful drives.Combined with the very complex rhythm section, which is characterized by the ability to change tempos in a blink of an eye, the result is outstanding.The flute parts, although less pronounced, present a more ethereal and delicate side of the group.Keyboards are present in a constant groove.Bombastic loads of Mellotron, furious, jazzy electric piano deliveries and sharp use of synthesizers offer often dual, rich textures with jazzy, symphonic and orchestral leanings.The group seems totally tireless.Impressive interplays, haunting soundscapes, fast grooves and dominant solos are born through the endless tempo shifts and numerous time signatures in an album full of inspiring moments.If you want a description from famous groups, the best I could give would be if PETER GABRIEL and his flute would meet IAN MACDONALD's majestic Mellotron.Next step would be to hire ROBERT FRIPP on guitars, DAVID JACKSON from VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR on sax, DAVID STEWART from NATIONAL HEALTH on electric piano and Francois Emond from MIRIODOR on clarinet with drums provided by ARTI I MESTIERI's Furio Chirico.Orchestral movements meet Canterbury-styled Fusion meet R.I.O.-flavored Jazz Rock in long and complicated, mostly instrumental pieces.Outstanding stuff.

Grandiose, intricate and challenging Progressive Rock with a monstrous sound.Maybe too complex for fans of more traditional listenings, but the result is absolutely amazing with a weird, charming balance hidden behind this adventurous material.Highly recommended.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1071380)
Posted Sunday, November 03, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is my kind of musical madness! Music meandering like birds en masse in the sky turning at a moment's notice and off in an entirely new direction. That's BIRDS AND BUILDINGS. One of the most exciting debut releases of avant-prog. This eclectic stew is astonishing in that it pays homage to the wealth of 70s heroes while simultaneously adding freshness and upgrading to the modern era.

Musically this is perfect, but the sparse male vocals could have gotten an upgrade as well. One of the only things I dislike about this album. Highly recommended to anyone who loves high energy music like zeuhl (definitely Magma influences) with eclectic elements of King Crimson, jazziness of Canterbury, saxes, crazy drumming and everything from slide guitar to soothing flutes. Must hear to believe. Too many influences to count. Eclectic to the max! 4.5 stars rounded up to 5

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1071879)
Posted Monday, November 04, 2013 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The first album of Dan Britton's Birds and Buildings project offers a vivid voyage to studies of classic progressive rock arrangements and compositional idioms. Its musical neo-classism is portrayed interestingly on the album covers, outer sides relying to Hieronymus Bosch's illustration (a minor detail from "Garden of Eden" painting), and the inner booklet adventuring on Kezia Terracciano's sympathetic drawings. The long album flows trough vast array of stylistic solutions, from Mellotron-driven solemn sceneries to Van Der Graaf Generator reminding saxophone assaults, not forgetting piano sequences visiting both jazzy and Renaissance-reminding symphonic passages, nor the few spoonfuls of heavier guitar riffs as a spice. The record is mostly instrumental, and I admit the maestro's vocal lines seem to be the weakest element on the technically skilful recording. I recall exchanging few messages with Mr. Britton about his Emkog-label's earlier albums I had heard, and remember he would have mentioned been studying music in Russia. The song titles have references to the place names and myths surrounding the mighty Urals, but mostly the album feels like a free ride possibility to the imagination of anybody open for this music. Really I do not find anything wrong with the album, but there seems to be also a drawback on this; I can't also find anything very special from it, and the technical virtuosity can't substitute for myself sensations of spirituality, human sincerity and spontaneous self-expression. I however underline, this perception opens only from my own personality, and based on this debut album I would certainly recommend this group to anybody open to adventurous, symphonic and technically well-crafted music. On the time of writing this, Birds and Buildings' second album "Multipurpose Trap" is also already released, which I have not heard though. From Emkog's production effort's seriousness might be carved to the release plans on their 2010 sampler, having release plans for 2015. The preliminary stated and possibly too optimistically estimated release years also tell their tale about the often invisible difficulties of getting already recorded songs to the markets as finished products. I personally respect the union of ambitious aims and pedantic orientation to handling of practical issues, though these factors might sometimes be not feasible on art creation process itself. There is a visit from singer Megan Wheatley on this album, and I adored her voice on the more ethereal album of group All Over Everywhere. I believe that band is my favourite of the Emkog label's groups, and I can sense the quality and stylistic diversity residing pleasantly on their release catalogue.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#1129543)
Posted Monday, February 10, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my first review after being a fan of this site for many years - I blame this site entirely for the amount of money spent on great albums and yet again more money is spent. I'll keep this short but ultimately this album is Eclectic Prog Heaven and nothing less. As so many times on this site I have just been blown away with the continuation of harmony, insanity and shear Whimsical delight and I think this Album expresses most of this. Without going into individual songs of perfect quality, I will just finish this review by saying "This is the reason life can be so good, when a soundscape of this magnitude flows into my ears and processed by my brain and transforming it into a sonic medium that increases through every hearing". Thanks for reading this and simply Keep on Progging.

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Send comments to Alucard Draco (BETA) | Report this review (#1323455)
Posted Friday, December 12, 2014 | Review Permalink

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