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Birds And Buildings

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Birds And Buildings Multipurpose Trap album cover
4.16 | 391 ratings | 10 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Dumb Fish (3:17)
2. Horse-Shaped Cloud (4:34)
3. Miracle Pigeon (2:25)
4. East Is Fort Orthodox (5:57)
5. Secret Crevice (5:49)
6. Tragic Penguin (7:10)
7. Catapult (10:09)
8. Aviator Prosco (10:13)
9. Abominable Pelican (14:03)

Total Time 63:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Dan Britton / keyboards, guitars, vocals
- Brian Falkowski / saxophone, clarinet
- Chris Fyhr / violin
- Brett d'Anon / bass, guitars, vocals
- Malcolm McDuffie / drums

- Cliff Phelps / vocals
- Chris West / vocals
- Megan Wheatley / vocals
- Miyuki Furukawa / vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Kezia Terracciano

CD Emkog Records ‎- EMKOG005 (2013, US)

Digital album

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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BIRDS AND BUILDINGS Multipurpose Trap ratings distribution

(391 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

BIRDS AND BUILDINGS Multipurpose Trap reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Warthur
5 stars Birds and Buildings were floating the prospect of a followup to the magnificent Bantam and Behemoth back in 2010, but it's taken far longer than anticipated for the enigmatic Multipurpose Trap to manifest. I am thrilled to discover it's worth the wait, with the band teasing just enough whimsical vocals into their work to add a new twist (check out their searing indictment of the evils of the pelican on the concluding track) whilst not focusing on the vocals to the extent that their intricate instrumental gymnastics are disrupted. With a sound reminiscent of the clowns from Mr Bungle running riot in a National Health/jazz fusion/zeuhl warehouse, Birds and Buildings once again fly easily to the front rank of avant-prog.
Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars Now I understand why they call this band BIRDS AND BUILDINGS. If you were to blast this out into the environment with loudspeakers birds would surely start flying into buildings! To call this music "busy" would be an understatement. The fact that this band so successfully fuses so many musical ideas into every moment at break-neck speed is simply astounding! Brett d'Anon's bass is the absolute wildest since classic era Yes. This is my favorite avant-prog since Mr Bungle

I definitely agree with others about the influences. This sounds like Mr. Bungle and National Health joined the circus and met Magma. All decided to jam but then the Mothers of Invention, Van der Graaf, King Crimson and countless mystery guests showed up to the party and this is the final result. This is the perfect blend of avant-prog, Canterbury jazz-fusion, zeulish rhythms and unpredictability. Unexpected snippets remind me of everything from Pink Floyd, to drone metal, even Kenny G! This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sound really scratches my avant-prog itch. This multipurpose masterpiece has me trapped under its spell and I like it! I actually like this better than the fantastic debut album, so 6 stars!

Review by bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It's a happy day in this prog household when a new Dan Britton project is released. Even the cat likes it. Dan Briton has become recognized as one of the most inventive and original composer / musicians in the new generation of prog. Everything he is involved with bears his signature yet maintains a separate identity. Much like Mike Patton, you know it's him but you can also easily pick out which band you are hearing.

My introduction was with the first Deluge Grander album. Then came the more avant-garde Birds and Buildings with its debut 'Bantam to Behemoth.' Another Deluge Grander followed and in the fall of 2013 Birds and Buildings had their next turn with 'Multipurpose Trap.'

In describing this, or any other progressive music, comparisons to other artists are bandied about as if by necessity. Granted, finding a baseline for context isn't easy without those kind of references. I do however grow weary of the usual, 'It's a blend of this with a dollop of that, mashed with A and a bit of B thrown in.' or 'If X and Y had a baby'' Do you want to know what Birds and Buildings sounds like? It sounds like Birds and Buildings. Okay, some kind of description is warranted. In the band's words, 'We play a mixture of intense jazz-rock (often bordering on zeuhl), more experimental symphonic music, and occasional avant-garde heaviness.' Got it? If you want more the band has posted some track-by-track explanation on their page.

What needs to be said is this challenging, sometimes dark stuff, that tries not to take itself too seriously. While the music may not as impenetrable as the influences the band drew from, it isn't exactly easy listening either. That was true of the debut as well. Keeping within the established B&B framework, 'Multipurpose Trap' expands on what worked before and explores new ground. A good example is 'Horse-Shaped Cloud' which has a bit of a medieval folk groove to it (that's right, I used groove in reference to medieval folk). Symphonic does not have as much of a presence in deference to emphasis on the avant and at times downright crazy. Take for example 'Secret Crevice.'

The first one was immensely enjoyable and would seem very hard to top. Against all odds they did it. There is a kind of well-planned schizophrenia going on. From the aforementioned folk, to lament, funky grooves and full freak-out, there is an even flow. Even in the height of chaos melody is never completely abandoned. Well, almost never. There are moments where the band gets to the speed and energy of a punk band. Much like Cardiacs except for the fact they actually were punks doing prog. The only complaint I had about the last album has also been corrected. That was the vocals being too low in the mix. Okay this vocal style is meant to be more of a subdued kind of barely intelligible chant but I still want to hear it. If you listen very carefully you may discover the bird theme in the lyrics.

The band needs to be recognized for their skill as well. The talent is as good as gets and every bit of it was poured into this recording. I imagine a lot of broken strings and smoking amps during these sessions. Brett d'Anon shines especially brightly as he approaches Jannick Top territory on the bass. The singers also gel quite nicely with Megan Wheatly standing out as usual.

'Multipurpose Trap' created a conundrum. I have a special place in my heart for Deluge Grander because I worked with Dan in getting them added to Prog Archives and 'The Form of the Good' was the catalyst for starting my blog. Facts are facts though and with this release I now prefer Birds and Buildings. It's a fantastic album by a tremendous group.

H.T. Riekels

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Dan Britton has created an incredible album here with "Multi Purpose Trap". It's one i'd describe as avant-garde first and foremost, and the attention to detail is stunning. And the way he has arranged the music with all these intricate sounds meshing together is mind- boggling. This is complex yet melodic. I just can't imagine the time that must have went into this, Dan truly is a musical genius. I first became familiar with him with the band CEREBUS EFFECT, a band put together by the former drummer for CHAOS CODE after that band had broke up. I was pleasantly surprised then to see Dan had added Cliff Phelps to his band here as Cliff was the former singer for CHAOS CODE. What a bizarre album "Multi Purpose Trap" is though and even the thick liner notes filled with these strange and interesting pictures certainly give us a clue to what the music might be like.

"The Dumb Fish" features pulsating keys, percussion and violin early on then clarinet but there is so much going on, a phrase I probably will repeat a lot. Male vocals after 2 minutes and I have to say that the male vocals provided by several people certainly have character and suit the music well. Often there are multi-vocals. "Horse-Shaped Cloud" opens with violin, percussion, clarinet and more. Male vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. This is a toe-tapper but man this is complex. Sax leads for a while then it settles back 3 minutes in. So good! It picks up with a circus vibe before 4 minutes and this continues to the end.

"Miracle Pigeon" hits the ground running, insanity! MIRIODOR comes to mind here. It's a little heavier a minute in after someone shouts. More vocals before 2 minutes. "East Is Fort Orthodox" sounds different from the rest with organ helping out as the music sort of floats along. It settles into an intricate groove after 1 1/2 minutes then the vocals join in. We get synths and sax as well. The male vocals are determined and deep 3 1/2 minutes in. A haunting and somewhat spacey conclusion to this one. Great track! "Secret Crevise" has such an incredible and intense intro. Strange vocals follow and is that moog? Just mind-bending music. How can they possibly play this? I like the sax 5 minutes in.

"Tragic Penguin" is relaxed with electric piano to start as other laid back sounds help out. I like the background synths. Violin joins in then guitar around 1 1/2 minutes. It starts to come more alive before 2 1/2 minutes then the guitar and violin start to lead. Drums join in then vocals before 3 1/2 minutes then it settles back but is heavier before 4 minutes. This is filled with intricate sounds the rest of the way. "Catapult" has so much energy to it and it's lot of fun as well. Vocals after a minute. A nice heavy sound 3 1/2 minutes in with sax over top. It picks up again after 4 1/2 minutes. Some brief vocals as well. How impressive does this sound before 9 minutes? A collage of sounds weaved so perfectly together.

"Aviator Prosco" might be my favourite. Sax and atmosphere to start and this one has female vocals in it. It turns instrumental around 4 1/2 minutes with horns over top. Vocals are back a minute later. Another instrumental break with guitar out front, then bass as horns blast, then lots of piano and strings. Vocals are back late. "Abominable Pelican" is the closer and longest track at 14 minutes. The vocals are most prominant on this one. It's kind of funky after 4 minutes, very cool. Lots of strings and bass in this one. I feel like I should be dancing or something while hearing this. It settles some with violin at 8 minutes and I really like the drum work. Keyboards lead 9 1/2 minutes in. Synths and vocals follow.

If your looking for some adventerous music played and arranged at the highest level you really need to check this album out.

Review by Prog Leviathan
5 stars Dan Britton's first Birds and Buildings release came as a complete surprise to me, so when I finally got my hands on Multipurpose Trap I knew what I was getting in to... and my expectations were pretty darn high. Luckily, Britton and his company of exceptional musicians deliver once again, in an incredibly intense, complex, energetic, (mostly) instrumental, and unabashedly prog experience. Multipurpose Trap is outstanding!

The album kicks off with "The Dumb Fish," a song that is fairly characteristic of the entire album: an immensely dense combination of instrumental virtuosity and inexhaustible precision. Do you think that prog-metal bands like Dream Theater play intricate melodies that are masterfully complex? Trust me, Birds and Buildings makes them seem almost like amateurs. The band is fantastically tight and busy, making one's toes tap and fingers bop and head rock each at a different tempo or rhythm. The effect is exceptionally intense but also very polished and professional. This is high-class prog that will either knock your socks off or make you wonder what the hell is happening... maybe both!!

"Horse-Shaped Cloud" is quirky and dramatic, taking us from a crescendo of bouncy violins, saxophones, and keyboards to a folksy country dance. How weird! How wonderful!

The tongue-in cheek "Miracle Pigeon" uses quirky riffing on the up-beat to tell the story of a superhero pigeon through music (seriously, check out Dan's comments from the band's website).

"East is Fort Orthodox" and "Secret Crevice" are probably the highlight pairing of the album. They give us a change of pace, building a sort of old-west tone that sets a dramatic tension, building and building to another killer track of non-stop instrumental grooves and improvisation that will positively tie you up in knots.

"Tragic Penguin" gives you a moment's reprieve of nuance and slow-tempo charm, which might just be there to prepare you for the total brain scramble that is "Catapult." Again, from the website, Dan says that it's '10 minutes of 20-second ideas.' This is one of those songs that is tailor made for fellow prog-heads, because who else could stand listening to a bombardment of musical ideas that twist, turn, coil, splat, careen, bounce, groove, barf, roar, chortle, and snort at break-neck speed?

Ultimately, this is the name of the game with Multipurpose Trap; it's a prog-head's celebration of the love of classic prog transformed by boundless energy and instrumental virtuosity. 5 big fat crazy freaking stars for Britton and company, and a must listen for fans of the genre. It'll make you stand up and beg for more, and make your friends, family, and neighbors wonder what the hell is wrong with you. Bravo!

Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of talented North Carolinian Dan Britton's projects (the others include CEREBUS EFFECT, DELUGE GRANDER, and himself, solo), the band's sophomore, follow-up album to 2010's highly acclaimed Bantam and Behemoth.

1. "The Dumb Fish" (3:17) Is it jazz? Is it prog? Is it Zeuhl? What is this? It's tightly performed chaos with very solid drumming. (8.5/10)

2. "Horse-Shaped Cloud" (4:34) What is this? If I didn't know better, I'd say these ideas came from somewhere between Camelot and Canterbury. (8.5/10)

3. "Miracle Pigeon" (2:25) MUFFINS-like avant silliness. (4.25/5)

4. "East Is Fort Orthodox" (5:57) You can beat the dickens out the Christmas carol, but you just can't take take the Christmas Carol out of Dickens. Tim Burton would like this one--despite the horribly recorded vocal. (8.5/10)

5. "Secret Crevice" (5:49) tightly performed chaos. Not the kind of crease Chris Rock was talking about. More like Koenjihyakkei. (8.5/10)

6. "Tragic Penguin" (7:10) Truly tragic. Like I was saying, you can take the penguin Carol out for Christmas, but you just can't take the penguin out of the Christmas carol. Like Xing Sa or Setna. (13/15)

7. "Catapult" (10:09) a North Korean scud missile! This one makes me laugh. Monty Python-esque--on another level. (17.25/20)

8. "Aviator Prosco" (10:13) good start with its peaceful, slow melodic weave. I feel as if the band is in the next room as Marvin Gaye when he was recording What's Going On? I really like the Burt Bacharach-like background vocal sound and arrangements. Then the MAGIC BUS/INNER EAR BRIGADE sound and stylistic palette in fourth, fifth, and sixth minutes. By far and away my favorite song on the album. (18.5/20)

9. "Abominable Pelican" (14:03) opens like the previous song before going more Middle Eastern pop jazz and presenting an absolutely ludicrous libretto arranged and performed to disastrous effect. Despite all attmpts and indications, this one is not even funny (except in a sad Tim Burton-kind of way). (24/30)

Total Time 63:37

Complex, dextrous compositions that are, once again, rendered at times cringe-worthy by poor production and/or engineering (though I have to admit the production here is not quite as bad as Dan's previous releases). Too bad I don't really like the high-energy klezmer like music. (I find it entertaining but it is not something that I enjoy or would ever choose to return to for my own listening pleasure.).

B-/3.5 stars; an entertaining collection of upbeat silliness.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Announced for 2011, the second Birds & Buildings effort was finally released in 2013. But these three years of waiting were rewarded a hundredfold! Dan Britton renewed his feat by offering us an album that is just as good, if not better. We find the strong and very strange atmosphere of Bantam to B ... (read more)

Report this review (#2485799) | Posted by Muskrat | Friday, December 18, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Young and already quite original band thanks to their well served and mixed music ingredients: fusion, Canterbury sound, Zeuhl and avantgarde. Musicians are extremely proficient and dynamic; the vocals are OK and thankfully not used too often; if they are, they are not imitating the Magma voc ... (read more)

Report this review (#2279502) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, November 9, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I was very curious to review this record! I had a feeling I would be a nice one and that was true. Birds and Buildings is a progressive rock band from the United States of America.Their first record "Bantam to Behemoth" from 2008 has gained a lot of appreciation and now they have released thei ... (read more)

Report this review (#1057098) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Wednesday, October 9, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The long awaited successor to one of my favorite albums ever. Overall, 'multipurpose trap' is pretty similar to 'Bantam to Behemoth', but has definitely evolved. The sound of this album is incredibly unique. Sometimes its sort of reminiscent of zeuhl, and at other times reminiscent of avant-prog ... (read more)

Report this review (#1056629) | Posted by pfloyd | Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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