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Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic - Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic (Ep)  CD (album) cover


Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic


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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I think this might have actually been the first thing these guys ever released. This is a pretty short EP consisting of five tracks, four of which are almost inconsequentially brief, and the more substantial Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous which would eventually appear along with Drift and The Orange Ocean on the full-length studio album 'Sonic Geology'. The other two songs would show up on 'The Fossil Record' compilation years later, after the band had made something of a name for themselves.

There's really not a whole lot to say about this EP; if you've never heard Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic then you may be in for a treat; that is if you are one of those people who got into the faux-jazz post- punk music scene of the mid-eighties that spawned these guys and others like them. Joe Jackson, Jah Wobble and Group 87 among others rode the wave for a few years as well.

These guys are great musicians for sure, although I wouldn't consider them to be avant-garde necessarily. More like a group of guys who clearly have formal musical training and a penchant for experimentation, mostly of the digital and synthesized variety. If you strip away the sound effects this is basically chamber music, slightly jazz-leaning in its composition, and with the bonus of a Farfisa organ, which I personally find to be a very warm and engaging instrument. Roger Miller was still with the band at this point as well, and his solid piano work reinforces the jazz references (and I would also mention the dude is very impressive with the level of finger dexterity and speed he shows, especially on the closing track).

Three stars seems about right; this is a decent introduction to the band and sort of marks their territory musically. Their fanbase isn't exactly huge, but they do appear to be quite loyal, so fans and collectors probably already have this. If you don't then you probably aren't a serious fan, and in that case I think I'd recommend the 'The Fossil Record' instead since it has some of the songs on this EP and also a number of other rarities from the band's early years. That actually sounds more like an argument for two stars, but the music is very well-played and I can't quite bring myself to rate it as somehow substandard because it isn't - it's just not for everybody. If you're a Birdsongs fan, you already know this.


Report this review (#179224)
Posted Friday, August 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is the first release from the coolest band ever to come out of Boston, that bastion of progressive music.......not!

The songs on this EP are mostly short, and the drums were primarily done on a rhythm machine, the precursor to synthesized drums. But the music is spectacular. Electric chamber music, as the band described it. Mostly angular compositions, very heavily weighted towards acoustic piano, but about as avant-garde as a band can get.

And my EP (perchased when the record was first released) still has the cut out mesozoic diorama, making it extra cool.

If you can find this rarity, it's quite worth it.

Report this review (#264419)
Posted Friday, February 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The first steps! Birdsongs of the Mesozoic are an American RIO band that was formed in the first half of the eighties, since then they have released several albums whose sound has changed a little bit, but their essence is the same.

My introduction to this band was their "Sonic Geology", which is a compilation of their earlier stuff. And liked their peculiar style, which is why I wanted to know more about them. A couple of weeks ago I found this self titled EP, which is actually their first release ever, so here the roots of the band can be appreciated.

This EP was released in 1983 and features only five songs, with a total time of 16 minutes. What you will find here, is a combination of avant-garde music with some kind of post-punk, interesting.

And that can be heard since the very first song "Sound Valentine" where a piano sound appears along with some kind of electronic drums, creating a tense atmosphere that in moments turns dark, the song is short and the structure is the same, but sounds interesting. Let me tell you that here you will find a purely instrumental album.

The next three songs are really short; they do not reach the 3 minutes. First there is "Transformation of Oz" where a piano and a farfisa appear interplaying with those electronic drums; it could be used as a soundtrack of either a terror or a science fiction movie. Next is "Drift" whose sound is softer and gentler in the first minute, later a kind of synth enters and adds some strange noises as background, creating again a nervous or tense atmosphere. "The Orange Ocean" has an addictive piano sound all over the song, the good thing are the elements they add throughout it, like some kind of cello that creates a beautiful sound, it is a pity the song is too short.

And this EP finishes with its longest song (six minutes) entitled "Triassic Jurassic Cretaceous" which again has that electronic drums that actually remind me to some Tuxedomoon passages. There are plenty of odd noises here that can drive you crazy, but at the same time can put you in an intriguing even exciting mood. Those strange sounds create some images in your mind that could lead you to an imaginary story, but that's only me, who like inventing stories while listening to music.

This is not the best introduction to the band, but if you want to listen to their first steps, you can get this self-titled EP. I like it and enjoy it every time I listen to it, but I do not really consider it could be actually recommendable, so I believe two stars is the correct rating, it is good, but just for fans?anyway

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#287750)
Posted Monday, June 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars The debut EP

BIRDSONGS OF THE MESOZOIC was one of the stranger bands that emerged from the already bizarre avant-prog world of the anything goes experimental 70s. The band was formed from the ashes of the Boston, MA based post-punk band Moving Parts when vocalist / keyboardist Erik Lindgren and vocalist / guitarist Roger Miller teamed up to create what the Boston Globe described as "classical-punk-jazz-car-wreck music." Miller is better known for his other post-punk creation Mission of Burma which was formed in 1979 but BIRDSONGS OF THE MESOZOIC which has always been considered a side project has been an influential and revered musical creation in the avant-prog underground.

The music has been almost exclusively instrumental over the years and although the band has been associated with the rock world for good reason as they managed to play side by side with three chord rockers in the early years, the band members were more influenced by the likes of Igor Stravinsky and Brian Eno than the traditional guitar, bass and drum bands of the era and this is extremely evident on the band's short self-titled debut EP which features five tracks that focus more on avant-classical piano rolls and motorik rhythmic percussive drives in the vein of Neu! At this stage the band was a quartet with Rick Scott (Farfisa, percussion, piano) and Martin Swope on guitar but honestly the guitar parts are limited to strange feedback noise and avant-garde techniques.

This is a weird little collection of music for sure. It begins with the classic Krautrock motorik percussive beat but is joined by a slightly skewed mix of jazz meets piano runs but infinitely more melodic than the brooding dissonance and chaotic swirls of noise that erupt in "Drift" which despite starting off with a similar piano run quickly breaks down into a cacophonous maelstrom of guitar feedback and pointillistic Stockhausen inspired piano stabs as well as other weirdness. "The Orange Ocean" returns to Earth and provides some stellar piano workouts with chamber orchestration that sounds more like traditional classical music than anything else on the EP.

This debut EP was only released once in 1983 on vinyl but now appears with the band's first full-length "Magnetic Flip" and the second EP "Beat of the Mesozoic" on the compilation "Dawn of the Cycads." This is one of my favorite avant-prog bands of the 80s. They didn't sound like anyone else and had a consistent run of avant-garde albums all throughout the 80s and are alive and well in the 21st century. While this debut EP isn't exactly the most essential of their output, it's a decent batch of early recordings that prognosticated the band's extreme sophistication that followed.

3.5 rounded down

Report this review (#2204244)
Posted Monday, May 20, 2019 | Review Permalink

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  • 3 stars Bj-1 (Björnar Lunde) SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator

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