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


Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic


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Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#50881)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My introduction!

Sonic Geology was my introduction to Birdsongs of the Mesozoic music, later i discovered The Iridium Controversy which i enjoy more. This is an album which was released in the late 80īs which includse 18 themes, with 3 minutes per song average, which if im not wrong are something like a compilation of their early music, at least i read that in the book of the album, maybe talking about progressive rock is difficult to find an album with so many songs (well dont pay attention to Fantoms Suspende Animation) you know what i mean, maybe we excpect 70 minutes of 5 to 10 songs, but not 18 short pieces, which is not bad at all, but however i found some boring moments throughout the album.

I remember also that i found this CD in my beloved Tianguis del Chopo, i found it so cheap but i actually wasnīt looking for it, neither of BSOM albums, but when i found it and heard the price, i didnīt hesitate to purchase it, i remember that i was very happy at the moment, and now im still happy because i like the album, i wonīt say that i listen to it very often, but itīs pretty nice stuff.

As the most of the RIO avant -garde bands, this album has no vocals on it, also it could be strange but thereīs no bass in the whole album, a lot of percussion which immediately remind me to mexican band Banda Elastica, and so many short but nice passages, obviously i wont review song by song, because there are so many and i dont have the arguments to review them all, but i could say some of the songs that i remember and like the most, "Waterwheel", "Scense from A...", "Final Motif" and the last song "Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous" which this last one is the longest of them all, in fact in the majority of the songs we will find a similar sound, sometimes going from the slow tempo piano songs, to the faster songs with an extraordinary percussion work, and pretty nice guitar, i think honestly percussion is what makes the beauty of the album, tending to sound experimental and even classical in some ways, keyboards are always there, but nothing outstanding.

Im not an expert of this kind of music, and maybe you could enjoy it more than i do, i think itīs a very nice album, but sometimes i found it pretty simple, so i consider it a good one, but non - essential, 3 stars this time!

Anyway if you have time and are interested get it, i recommend it to RIO lovers.

Report this review (#93883)
Posted Monday, October 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars While not as polished sounding as their subsequent releases, I find the early recordings of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic to be much more interesting. Perhaps that is because of the work of Roger Miller (no not that guy, the one from Mission of Burma), adding a harder edge to the music.

This collection is culled from the band's original vinyl releases, all classics. The sound quality is a bit rough, and the rhythm section is held together by a cheesy drum machine. But that doesn't keep the band from creating some fantastic music. The majority of the tracks are built upon simple, but unconventional licks, repeated and built on until they reach a frenzy. And the highlights to me are two cover tunes, an amazing version of the theme somg from Rocky & Bullwinkle, and excerpts from Stravinsky's Rites of Spring.

Report this review (#215261)
Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Review Permalink

BIRDSONGS OF THE MESOZOIC Sonic Geology ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only
  • 4 stars mindrocker200
  • 4 stars Dango (Godja Daniel)
  • 4 stars mdelval (Manuel del Val Latorre)
  • 1 stars ProgShine (Diego Camargo) COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
  • 4 stars RockHound (Jack Pashin)

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