BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Four Freckle Constellation (Conspiracy) lp 30.00
Another new record from AQ's patron saint of buzz and drone and epic soundscapery, New Zealand's Mr. Campbell Kneale, aka Birchville Cat Motel. Every new BCM record is full of new sonic directions, new discoveries, Kneale deftly managing to forge ahead musically, while somehow infusing whatever it is he's doing with a distinct Birchville sound, that while difficult to describe, is not at all difficult to hear. This lp only release comes from Belgium's Conspiracy records, hence the hefty price tag, but like all BCM records it's well worth it. This one starts out with a bang. Or rather a grinding dirgey rrrrooooar. Sounding more and more like a full band, right out of the gate Kneale is spewing an avalanche of super chaotic and noisy doooooom, squalls of distortion, sheets of feedback, pounding drums, a seriously brutal chunk of heaviness, but that eventually gives way to a drones out bagpipe jam (an electric bagpipe, part of Kneale's unique sonic arsenal), sounding almost like a heavier more epic Amps For Christ. Drone-y and raga-like, the long drawn out upper register tones eventually bliss out into a whirring tranquil outro laced with deep soft swells and dreamlike whirs. The flipside begins with tangle of thick buzz and streaks of rumbling low end, underpinning a garbled downtuned angular melody, strangely and sort of impossibly noisy and pretty simultaneously. The track lurches into full forward motion, as if we were in for another doomic dirge, but instead, the track transforms into a glistening bliss out, all sputtery percussion and twinkling high end, eventually finishing off in the same manner as side A, but here the outro is a bit more intense, the tranquility disrupted by muted shards of atonal chaos, finally drifting off to silence. LIMITED TO 350 COPIES!!! With super intense four panel, fold out, full color cover, with artwork by Seldon Hunt.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Gunpowder Temple Of Heaven (Pica Disk) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Noisemaker Lasse Marhaug's Pica Disk label offers us three brand new blasts of delightful noisiness. Two discs of SERIOUS noise from Incapacitants and Hijokaidan, and this one of softer prettier noise, from long time aQ favorite Campbell Kneale, aka Birchville Cat Motel. And even by BCM standards, Gunpowder Temple of Heaven is pretty pretty noise. One long meditative ur-drone, shimmering, glistening layers of reverberating sound, like Spacemen 3 played Phill Niblock. The sort of dense dronemusic, that becomes alive when listened to closely. The various sounds sprawling and twisting, changing shapes, timbres shifting, overtones beating, subtle rhythms, ghostly melodies, all this going on just below the surface. The surface being long thick, rich tones, each drifting subtly, tonal colors gradually changing. What begins as soft and shimmery, soon builds to something more gritty and dense, glistening sonic flares smeared into roiling swirls of blinding sound. Eventually, the rough edges are worn away, and the tone becomes more and more pure, smoother and more rich, the sound of organs, and lilting melodies surfacing, the sounds gentler, their interactions with each other more complimentary, soothing, dreamlike, mesmerizing, various notes and tones gradually sloughing off, leaving less and less sound, the drone becoming more fine, more simple, until finally, a single note wavers and then blinks out. Divine! Super deluxe gorgeous packaging. Gatefold digipak, with thick velvet backing for the cd, and a booklet with an awesome BCM essay from the Dead C's Bruce Russell.
"Gunpowder Temple Of Heaven (excerpt)"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Her Anger Is Limitless (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We won't go into to much detail with this one, other than to say, boy are we lucky. This is a tour only cd-r release, available exclusively on BCM's 2006/7 European tour, and thankfully, since most of us couldn't make it to any of those shows, Mr. Campbell Kneale, aka Birchville Cat Motel, stashed us a whole half of the pressing! That's right, 25 of the 50 are here, and if those numbers don't make it obvious, these will be gone before you know it. And as if we even need to tell you, it's a killer. So act fast if you want one of these. A single half hour track, created out of what sounds like manipulate samples of voices, is transformed into a massive glistening technicolor shower of sound. You know how when it's crazy hot, kids open up the hydrants and just run around in the street as tons of cool water rains down on them. Imagine a similar situation, except when the hydrant is cracked, out comes thick torrents of billowy fuzz and grinding whir, all sparkling and dense and warm and thick, and you just close your eyes and let the sounds wash over you and fill your ears. It sounds like a million guitars, and guys outside cutting down trees and tossing them in the wood chipper and some sort of futuristic synth battle and thousands of little bells and chimes and a roomful of amps turned on and buzzing with no instruments plugged into them, all smeared into one gorgeous glimmering sonic deluge. So good. And again, 25 copies and then they are gone. For good. Packaged in the classic, CPsiP wall paper sleeve with brown and black liner note insert.
"Her Anger Is Limitless (excerpt)"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Home (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It's really amazing how I never get tired of this BCM stuff. I think a lot of that is due to the fact that all of these records are completely different, and while the differences are subtle, you are rewarded for active listening, digging deep into the layers of sound and focusing on different patterns and rhythms, different sounds and instruments. Campbell Kneale, like Matthew Bower before him, seems to have a direct line to the primordial drone, able to summon it at a moments notice, and then channel it through all sorts of strange instrumentation. 'Home' is definitely UR-DRONE of the highest order, a very Eastern tinged raga, with plucked and bowed strings, subtle feedback and barely-there percussion woven into a seamless tapestry of head expanding sound.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Jewelled Wings (Freedom Form) lp 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another under the bed find from Campbell Kneale. We should get this guy to clean house more often. Not only did he unearth a handful of the long out of print debut Birchville Cat Motel cd on Insample (see elsewhere on this list) he also managed to scrape up the last 20 of these EVER. Released way back at the beginning of this century, Jewelled Wings was lp only, and features an all acoustic, no overdubs, no effects Birchville Cat Motel. You might be thinking BCM Unplugged or something, but even sans electronics, Kneale can kick up a serious fuss. A dense swirl of Dead C style free rock clatter with chimes and bells and various percussive bits all mixed into the thick sonic stew that is the BCM wall of droning sound, each and every bit constructed from an unusual array of non instruments, household implements, bits of this, some of that. You can almost imagine Kneale spending weeks placing microphones all over his house, in the garage, the bathroom, the office, outside on the roof, by the kids' swingset, in the shower, all over the kitchen, and then just going apeshit and essentially playing his whole house. And we're pretty sure that's not all that far off the mark. LONG OUT OF PRINT. ROUTINELY SELLS FOR WAY TOO MUCH ON eBAY!!! We have 20 copies and then they are gone for good. And try to be a sport and not buy these to just re-sell on eBay. Let folks who actually enjoy listening to music give these lps nice homes! One per customer, naturally.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Long Vanished Spirals (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We at AQ have long been fans of Campbell Kneale and his project Birchville Cat Motel who along with the Dead C, Omit, Gate and a handful of others have helped to define one of the richest free-rock-noise-drone scenes in the world. For years Kneale has been releasing cds, lps and cassettes (most of them quite limited) of noisy electronic soundscapes and gorgeous organic drones. So when we discovered Kneale also ran a label, we figured it was definitely worth checking out. And how right we were. Not only is all of the music on Celebrate Psi Phenomena amazing, but the packaging is perfectly and stunningly designed as well (quite nice considering this is a cd-r label. See our crappy cd-r packaging rants in the last three or four lists) with each cd in a plastic sleeve nestled between two sheets of old fashioned textured wallpaper, printed, and sealed with a gold star. This is a compilation of the a-sides of most of Birchville's super limited lathe cut singles. From roaring blasts of distorted guitar, buzzing and squealing to gentle bowed Middle Eastern melodies to shimmering blissed out dronescapes to crackling clatter and clang, rattle and scrape to speaker melting almost-power-electronics. An awesome compilation of Kneale's many different sonic personalities.
"Long Vanished Spirals"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Mighty Spine Catcher (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This is a collection of random recordings from 200-2002, but even as a collection of outtakes and leftovers, it functions quite nicely as a proper record, or even as an excellent introduction to the mighty (and mighty prolific) Birchville Cat Motel. This is that sublime NZ drone, with occasional bursts of dog whistle skree and cascading feedback. Lush and rich and dreamy. Fans of Sunrrof!, Total, Vibracathedral Orchestra and drone in general should really, if they haven't already, invest in a serious BCM collection!
"These Darkening Orbits" RealAudio clip:
"Mighty Spine Catcher"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Our Love Will Destroy The World (Pseudo Arcana) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. There was a time when Campbell Kneale and his Birchville Cat Motel were all about the drone. Channelling classic minimalists and modern skree merchants, offering up drifting droning soundscapes, tranquil and freeeeee. But then something happened. Not sure if it was some sort of regression to his teenage years, or hanging with the wrong crowd, but suddenly Kneale started becoming mildly obsessed with metal. And the sound of BCM began to reflect that. The drones were still in place, but now they were constructed from screaming guitars and huge slabs of ultra distorted slow motion riffs. This new direction, which would later result in the formation of post-BCM outfit Black Boned Angel, first surfaced on the appropriately titled Screamformelongbeach which we originally referred to as BCM's quote unquote rock record, and whose cover art featured a Campbell-Kneale-as-rock-god-in-action blurred photo. Our Love Will Destroy The World is actually a reissue of Screamformelongbeach with almost a half hour of extra music from the same time period. Here's what we had to say about Screamformelongbeach when we first had it: While this is certainly BCM's most rock record to date, it's be no means -that- sort of rock record. A groovy seventies rock riff gets looped and repeated FOREVER, while Kneale sprays grinding skree, viscous fuzz and squealing feedback all over. Before a strange purposeful stadium rock drum beat emerges from the chaos, and the sonic deluge eventually abates, skipping and skittering into a spare and abstract rhythmscape. Very reminiscent of the most recent Skullflower, whose Sabbath-hypno-Hawkwind-mantra turned 'the riff' into psychotropic drone rock nirvana. The bonus tracks pretty much follow the same sort of course, some riff is blown out and buried in sheets of corrosive feedback and sludge guitars, drums are buried and nearly swallowed whole by the din. A beautifully pumelling guitar on fire to the face! Essential for fans of the last few Skullflower records, the last Vibracathedral Orchestra, as well as stuff like SUNNO))), Boris and the like, although BCM on this recording at least is less slow and low and more high and dry!
"Heavens Flaming Horse" MPEG Stream:
"55,000 Flowers For The Hero"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL s/t (Insample) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We managed to get a handful of this, the very first Birchville Cat Motel recording, direct from the man himself, after discovering a pile hidden away in his house. But those flew out of here in no time and seemed gone for good. But a few weeks ago, the man behind Insample got in touch to let us know he had his own little stash of discs he'd be willing to part with, so we got a bunch, not sure how long they'll last, but if you missed out before, you got another chance... It's a bit hard to believe that Campbell Kneale's Birchville Cat Motel has been around for almost a decade, although when you take a look at just how many releases the man has produced over the last decade, it becomes a little bit easier. This here self titled cd (yeah, it's a cd, just packaged in a weird 7" style sleeve) is the very first Birchville recording from way back in 1997. So, what's it doing on the AQ list circa 2007 you ask? Well, it hasn't been repressed, nope this is still seems to be stone cold out of print, but Mr. Kneale just happened to be doing a little house cleaning when he discovered a long forgotten stash of these gems and offered them to us. We took all of 'em and sold 'em. Now we've got another batch direct from the label, but like before, not sure how long these will be around... We're not really sure what Kneale did before BCM, but this caustic blast of NZ noise announced loud and clear that it didn't matter one bit. Kneale has taken BCM sonically from one end of the spectrum to the other, soft shimmery ambience, massive metallic drones, blissed out free rock weirdness, but when he was just starting out, Birchville was a seriously mean machine. Hard and harsh and not a little bit scary! There are hints of the deft crafter of droney sonic worlds that Kneale would become, but here, Kneale is a warrior of noise, head down, hunkered behind his gear ready to do battle, bathed in a halo of white hot fury, exploring a world of caustic industrial grind, walls of shrieking feedback and thick swells of buzz and hiss, bells and clattery percussion, simple melodies and subtle sonic sparkles are all drenched in a viscous shower of coruscating crunch. There are bits of tranquility here and there, but they are fraught with peril, cuz there's always some noisy beast just out of earshot ready to pounce. A gorgeously chaotic caterwaul! Packaged in an oversized 7" sleeve with a little cd pocket. And again, this is already and still OUT OF PRINT, has been for years. These last copies might just be the last ever!
"Cast Iron Tether" MPEG Stream:
"So Sad Doll"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Screamformelongbeach (Pseudo Arcana) 3" cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This purports to be BCM's 'rock record', hence the title and the Campbell-Kneale-as-rock-god-in-action blurred cover photo. And while this is certainly BCM's most rock record to date, it's be no means -that- sort of rock record. A groovy seventies rock riff gets looped and repeated FOREVER, while Kneale sprays grinding skree, viscous fuzz and squealing feedback all over. Before a strange purposeful stadium rock drum beat emerges from the chaos, and the sonic deluge eventually abates, skipping and skittering into a spare and abstract rhythmscape. Very reminiscent of the most recent Skullflower, whose Sabbath-hypno-Hawkwind-mantra turned 'the riff' into psychotropic drone rock nirvana.
"55,000 Flowers For The Hero"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Second Curved Earth Destroyer (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) 3cd-r 30.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The first Curved Earth Destroyer collected a handful of live Birchville performances, from all over the world, spanning enough years, that we were able to hear the gradual development of BCM, from more ethereal tripped out ambient drones, to something much more aggressive and almost metallic. This second installment doesn't offer the same development, or such a wide breadth of sound. It's simply a collection of various stellar performances, culled from the last three years. Seven long sets, spread out over three discs, recorded all over, New Zealand, France, Australia, Hong Kong and a couple from the USA, some of the song titles sound familiar enough that they seem like variations of songs from other discs ("Dead Call Home Their Birds" instead of the other way around, "Gunpowder Church Of Satan", etc.) but it hardly matters, the sound of BCM is so gorgeous, so epic and organic, whether it's a glistening sheet of high end shimmer, or a corrosive slab of crumbling blistering crunch, the sounds are deftly stretched into expansive sonic vistas, some sun dappled and dreamy, others blackened and harrowing. Disc 3 (no need to go in numerical order right?) features the above mentioned tracks, recorded in France and NZ, and finds BCM, aka Campbell Kneale, doing the epic Ur-drone, long tones held forever, layered and layered, both tracks washed out and shimmery, the second, almost orchestral, both completely mesmerizing, like an even more epic Sunroof! Disc 2 begins with the 29 minute "Junkshop Rainbow Superserpent", a live collaboration with 1/3 Octave Band, the first half of the track, much more folky and abstract than usual, before building to a super dramatic crescendo of bowed metals and feeding back guitars, before unwinding into a field of bell like tones, and swooping backwards FX. Tripped out and haunting. The other two tracks, recorded in Hong Kong and NZ respectively, feature still more static ambience, the first like a cd-r minimal drone version of Arvo Part, glimmering, glistening, shimmering stretches of slow drifting sounds, soft overtones, gentle buried barely-there melodies, the second, much more lo-fi, lots of static and buzz and hiss and fuzz, but beneath it all lurk little warbly melodies, wheezing layers of whir and whisper, and a deep droning rumble. Disc 1 is all USA, recorded in Rochester and Chicago, the Rochester track is nearly 25 minutes of slow building ambient clatter, blurred and smeared into long tones, a warm whirring drone over the top, all tangled up with low end melodies that creep in gradually, the percussive clatter transforming into a cloud of tinkling chimes wreathed by the increasingly corrosive buzz. The Chicago track is another wall of static buzz, this one spends its first half murky and muted, before blossoming into a flurry of whirling buzz and more distant tinkling chimes, before finally fading out into a super minimal lo-fi drift. Packaged in that instantly recognizable CPSIP wallpaper style sleeve, with three inserts containing minimal liner notes for each disc, and of course SUPER LIMITED! We did get a bunch of these, but as always, these very well might be the last copies we can get, so grab one while you can...
"Dead Call Home Their Birds Live" MPEG Stream:
"Gunpowder Church Of Satan"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL September (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We at AQ have long been fans of Campbell Kneale and his project Birchville Cat Motel who along with the Dead C, Omit, Gate and a handful of others have helped to define one of the richest free-rock-noise-drone scenes in the world. For years Kneale has been releasing cds, lps and cassettes (most of them quite limited) of noisy electronic soundscapes and gorgeous organic drones. So when we discovered Kneale also ran a label, we figured it was definitely worth checking out. And how right we were. Not only is all of the music on Celebrate Psi Phenomena amazing, but the packaging is perfectly and stunningly designed as well (quite nice considering this is a cd-r label. See our crappy cd-r packaging rants in the last three or four lists) with each cd in a plastic sleeve nestled between two sheets of old fashioned textured wallpaper, printed, and sealed with a gold star. This is a super limited tour-only release for Birchville's recent Japanese tour. One hour long track. There's something about a piece of improvised music, when everything just clicks and the result is transcendent, spectacular, and becomes almost a living thing, instead of a piece of music played by some guys. And 'September' is a perfect example. This hour long, static drone is a lush chaotic mix of guitars, squealing and feeding back, layer upon layer, woven into gossamer washes of rough (pleasingly so) sound. Like My Bloody Valentine with all of the rhythmic/rock band elements removed. Just the very essence of sound, drone, music. So beautiful.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Seventh Ruined Hex (Important) cd 14.98
With most bands who possess the kind of extensive catalog that Birchville Cat Motel does (41 different titles on the aQ site so far, this making it 42), after a while, it's hard to know what to say. It's tempting to just say something like "you love this band already, if you like the other records, you'll like this one too, so just buy it", and that would probably work on a bunch of folks, it sure would on us, but the thing about BCM, is the sound changes enough to make every new record exciting and new, familiar enough to appeal to fans, but definitely interesting enough to convince most of us that we actually do need another BCM disc to add to the 30 or 40 we already have. This one is no different. Right out of the gate, BCM main man, and axe wielder Campbell Kneale, offers up something we haven't heard from him in a while, a fierce roiling cloud of blown out psych guitar. Thick sheets of keening feedback, dense swirls of high end shimmer like Haino plays Sunroof!, dense squalls are pulled out into long ropy streaks of blinding white hot buzz and skree, as the track progresses, the rough edges and jagged corners seem to get worn away, the sound becoming more washed out, but still just on the edge of full on ear drum damage. That's sort of the magic in music like this, figuring out a way to harness noise, and twist it into pleasing shapes, which Kneale is quite adept at. By the end of the track, the low end has caught up to the high, and the track blisses out nicely. But that track definitely sets the stage for the rest of Seventh Ruined Hex, a record that is all about HIGH END. It's much easier to wrangle low tones into something dense and beautiful and drone-y and listenable, but the upper registers are inherently a lot more brutal and punishing and difficult to work with. But Kneale, as always, is up to the challenge. That opening, extended high end ur-drone is followed up by some awesome sonic weirdness, a brief respite from the skree, a strange stuttering rumbling soft cacophony of looped guitars, damaged FX, some thick metallic crunch, all warped an warbly, with a haunting pretty little melody underneath. Definitely another one of those tracks (every BCM record has one) that you can totally imagine being an hour long and it's own full length. The next track brings us right back to the static drone, and those upper registers, a simple chiming bit of percussion, underscores a crystalline high end smear, various notes and tones, woven into a glistening web of slowly shifting notes and overtones, a glancing listen, and it sounds like some difficult listening, but let your ears adjust to this high end soundworld, and suddenly the track blossoms and reveals its sonic treasures, filling your ears with a cascade of blinding glimmering streaks and warm glowing barely-there melodies. The title track brings things back into the midrange, at least briefly, a growling, rough edged loop, guitar it sounds like, grinding out a muted pulse, some dark shimmer, some fuzzy blur, but still shot through with slivers of that high end skree, building again to swirling slow motion supernova of sound, emitting thick pulses of smoldering opalescence. Finally, the record closes with the 17 minute "Bee", which begins all ultra lo-fi doom jam, moaning downtuned guitars and crumbling production, before transforming into a thick gossamer haze of gorgeous lullaby like whirs and shimmer, the high end kept in check, the whole track a slow build, very epic and cinematic, the various stretched out notes and chords churning beneath a layer of warm gentle buzz, midtrack, the sounds threaten to loose themselves and soar skyward, but are quickly reeled back in, the rest of the track a long slow fade, the high end sinking deeper and deeper beneath a warm blanket of instrument hum and blurred melody.
"Ghastly Star" MPEG Stream:
"Werewolf Shorn Of Its Hell"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Shapeshifter (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We at AQ have long been fans of Campbell Kneale and his project Birchville Cat Motel who along with the Dead C, Omit, Gate and a handful of others have helped to define one of the richest free-rock-noise-drone scenes in the world. For years Kneale has been releasing cds, lps and cassettes (most of them quite limited) of noisy electronic soundscapes and gorgeous organic drones. So when we discovered Kneale also ran a label, we figured it was definitely worth checking out. And how right we were. Not only is all of the music on Celebrate Psi Phenomena amazing, but the packaging is perfectly and stunningly designed as well (quite nice considering this is a cd-r label. See our crappy cd-r packaging rants in the last three or four lists) with each cd in a plastic sleeve nestled between two sheets of old fashioned textured wallpaper, printed, and sealed with a gold star. This is an expanded line-up (expanded from the usual one man Birchville Cat Motel) performing all acoustic recorded between 1999-2000. Sparse and clattery, with lots of random percussion, woodwinds and bowed metal drones. A clinking clanking, rattling free folk/jazz, sounding somewhere between Native American Folk music, No Neck Blues Band, an orchestra tuning up and a stripped down and acoustic Godspeed You Black Emperor. Mostly calm and meditative with occasional moments of free clamour and stumbling rhythmic fall out.
"Shapeshifter 1" RealAudio clip:
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Siberian Earth Curve (Drunken Fish) cd 13.98
An enigmatic stateside debut from this New Zealand (I think... they are pretty enigmatic after all...) ensemble which drones on through guitar, appliances, cymbals, and some dizzying device which generates a warbling tonality which hits some pretty nauseating (in a good way, like rollercoasters are entertainment through nausea) frequencies.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Small Christian Victories (Diagnosis...Don't!) 3" cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. ATTENTION BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL OBSESSIVES!!! The newest release on the Grey Daturas' Diagnosis...Don't label is a sweet lil' slab of feedback folly from NZ noisenik Birchville Cat Motel recorded live on a fire escape in Wellington New Zealand. This here brand new 14 minute long 3" cd-r ep is BCM at his most fiery and white hot. Thick guitar drone mushed through a battery powered walkman speaker giving it that special grinding crunch sound you just sort of want to strip naked and luxuriate in. But as it's Mr. Kneale, he's able to work some of that magical alchemical musical voodoo of his, and make this shrill shrieking grinding coruscating beast sound downright pretty and soothing. Feedback becomes glistening melodies rendered in glorious dreamy high end. Not sure if it's organ or guitar, but it's all upper register skree, and it's all goddamn beautiful. Packaged in thick textured paper grey mini 3" sleeves, with a printed (band name, label info, liner notes) Japanese style obi. Nice. And as always, this is SUPER LIMITED, and odds are we won't be able to get more. We did get a whole bunch, but don't let that keep you from ordering it now or you'll be kicking yourself when these are gone...
"excerpt 1" MPEG Stream:
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Summer's Seething Pulse (Mar/ino) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This long out of print disc, one of our favorite Birchville discs, is available again, briefly, not sure how, but we dug up 5 or 6 copies of this, and figured there were probably a few folks who might have missed out on it, so here it is, one more time... Our hyper prolific buddy Campbell Kneale returns with another piece in the puzzle that is Birchville Cat Motel. Three extended tracks, over 50 minutes! The first track displays the harsher side of our normally mild mannered noisenik, with warm white noise that slowly gets its jagged edges smoothed off until the raw spiky skree becomes a warm muted roar. Track two finds us in much more familiar territory. 30 minutes of what sounds like bells and chimes, that are stretched into a warm wash of overtones and reverberations, with occasional clatter and buzz bobbing to the surface. Gorgeously meditative. Track three sounds like an indie rock band caught in Kneale's sticky web, trying desperately to pick out notes on their guitars, struggling against the thick, unyielding pull of oblivion. Shimmering feedback and rumbling drones occasionally let a stray note or chord make it to the surface, but those are quickly swallowed up by the murky morass.
"Sleep June Slope"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL The Frog Prince (Anthem) 7" 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. An ultra-uber-super-mega limited 7" from all time AQ noisemakers Birchville Cat Motel, released on Anthem Records, the same folks who brought us the killer Brainbombs 7" Stinking Memory a while back. The packaging this time around is no frills, a plain sleeve, hand stamped, the record numbered in gold ink (limited to 212 copies) and it's only one song, a one sided 7", but it's unlike any BCM recording we've heard yet. It kills us that it's only a 7"... It begins with a strange collection of vocalizations, duck calls, metallic shimmers, distant moans, alien rhythms, and what sounds like monkeys or maybe crickets, a dense tangle of sounds that swirl and intertwine before giving way to a propulsive metallic groove, a chugging guitar, plodding drums, but all beneath a mighty chorus of croaking frogs (hence the title?)! It sounds a bit like the main riff from Judas Priest's "You Got Another Thing Coming" looped over and over. And throw in the frogs and suddenly you've got some crazy mix of Circle's Andexelt and Sounds Of North American Frogs, and that is a very good thing indeed. LIMITED TO 212 COPIES!!!
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Vespertine (Last Visible Dog) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. More minimal dreaminess from Campbell Kneale and his one man drone machine Birchville Cat Motel. 'Vespertine' is one 40 minute barely fluctuating drone constructed from guitars tapes, radios, synthesizers and vacuum cleaners! This is some gorgeous deep listening: layers and layers of fuzz and hum transport the listener to another plane. Otherworldly and transcendental supreme drone. Perfect.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL We Count These Prayers... (Corpus Hermeticum) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Outside of the Dead C, Birchville Cat Motel are one of the few original New Zealand noise musicians still making relevant noise. And like the Dead C, their sound has continued to evolve and grow well beyond the confines of 'noise music'. On 'We Count These Prayers...' BCM seem to have fully made the transition from 'noise' to 'sound'. The sound now being a whirling buzzing dark ambience reminiscent of fellow New Zealander Omit, Hazard, Troum or the like. The sounds here are created mostly with acoustic instruments, toys and electronic drones, all merged into a dronescape of blurred buzz and hissing hum. The record begins with a slightly unplugged guitar chord creating a short circuiting grainy ambience, with the sound of everyday life (footsteps, fidgeting, equipment moving, etc...) slowly encroaching on the proceedings. Track two is a bit more serene, with exended melodies stretched into delicate tones, rich, deep and sonorous, slowly evolving and slithering slowly out of your speakers. The record actually approaches 'the pop song' but only just barely, with a reverbed guitar plucking out a simple, slightly exotic sounding melody, over a downy bed of warm gentle hum, sounding a bit like Michael Hedges playing at the bottom of a well. The sound then darkens considerably, with some downright frightening horror-ambience, complete with tense bursts of upper register drones over a shimmering minor key wash, unsettling and nervewracking. Beautiful and ominous. The final track is a slowly escalating battle between a gentle and distant sounding music box and a short wave radio. Eventually after an extended crescendo, the short wave wins, turning the track into a torrential outporing of static and hiss. Easily the best Birchville Cat Motel record yet!
"Shapeshifter" RealAudio clip:
"Another Miners Light" RealAudio clip:
"Slow Vehicle Bay"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL With Maples Ablaze (Scarcelight) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This has to be the biggest cast of underground noiseniks ever assembled. In fact, pretty much every past and present AQ favortie is represented in this extended BCM lineup. Let's see. Bruce Russell of the Dead C, Antony Milton, Rosy Parlane, Peter Wright, Ralf Wehowsky, Neil Campbell of Vibracathedral Orchestra, Stefan Neville, Reynols, John Weise, rhBand, Simon Wickham-Smith, Jonathan Coleclough, Glenn Donaldson of Jewelled Antler (Blithe Sons, Skygreen Leopards, Thuja etc.), Lovely Midget, Tetuzi Akiyama, Peter Stapleton, Jan Anderzen (Avarus, Kemialliset, etc.), Bill Wood, Richard Francis, Ben Spiers, Rob Hayler (who runs the amazing Fencing Flatworm label), Kuwayama Kiyoharu, Kohei Nakagawa (aka Guilty Connector), and all Stephen Clover contribute junk, field recordings, baby monitors, percussion, radio, microphones, synth, electronics, broken amplifier, metal, feedback, bowed guitar, pulse and drone, boiling water, tones, harmonium, singing, shibaki electronics, diseased cd-r's, reynols (guess who?), loops, tapes, violin, piano, accordion and loads more. Phew. You think with that many cords plugged into the ol' 4-track, With Maples Ablaze would be a serious mess, but surprisingly, whether due to the contributions themselves or Campbell Kneale's deft handling of all the bits and pieces, this is a gorgeously expansive and surprisingly cohesive bit of ambient clattery drone. Most of us thought that Birchville's recent double cd Beautiful Speck Triumph was perhaps as good as it could get (in fact even Kneale mentioned something to that effect recently) but the more we listen to this one, the more it holds up as one of BCM's best. Twittering birds over far away organs while cellos creak and groan, muted underwater melodies drift lazily through a syrupy sonic haze while high end overtones ping and shimmer. Someone shoveling imaginary snow on hot concrete in a cloud of shimmer and buzz while baby mewls are morphed into twisting, sweetly inhuman melodies. Probably THE moment on this record is the epic sixth track, a stuttery drone constructed from an endless snare roll, tinkling chimes, and processed baby cries. Completely mesmerising and surprisingly 'rocking'.
"With Maples Ablaze 2" MPEG Stream:
"With Maples Ablaze 8" MPEG Stream:
"With Maples Ablaze 10"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Zenkoji (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The latest in Campbell Kneale's campaign to rule the world via an endless stream of releases, ALL OF THEM GREAT! This time it's a 30 minute piece recorded live in a Japanese temple, using contact mics, effects, dictaphone feedback, tapes, computer speakers and a PA. And this is austere and beautiful, we're talking Bernard Gunter territory here. Okay, maybe not that austere. A gorgeous hissy fuzzy soundscape of trickling water, gentle rainfall, and far away fog horns, that slowly bulids in intensity, while managing to remain murky and tranquil. Deep resonant drones slowly surface as do occasional clatters and clangs, and wheezing high end in the distance. Totally hypnotic and otherworldly. But we've come to expect nothing less.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL / BRUCE RUSSELL s/t (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL / ESO STEEL Serene Trajectories (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another entry from the neverending barrage of gritty drones from Campbell Kneal's Celebrate Psi Phenomenon cd-r imprint, "Serene Trajectories" finds Campbell in his Birchville Cat Motel persona collaborating with fellow New Zealand sound sculptor Richard Francis (aka Eso Steel). Ostensibly, both work with "the drone", although they approach the medium in two entirely different means. Campbell prefers electric miasmas from guitar amplifiers and broken electronics, often drawing comparisons to Dead C and Sunroof; where Francis works with much cleaner techniques, digitally sculpting field recordings into textually rich dronescapes. As can be expected, this album falls directly in between those two ends of the fidelity spectrum, as flurries of indeterminant buzzings amass into thick snowstorms of raw sound while dramatic clatterings and striations burst through the stereofield with remarkable clarity and precision. Yup, another winner from Celebrate Psi Phenomenon.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL / TARENTEL / CHARALAMBIDES Nothing Out There #5 (Nothingoutthere) 3x3"dvd-r 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We discovered this just a little too late. The first in a series of cool compilations, all insanely limited, dvd-r's with interviews and live performances, super fancy homemade packaging. But sadly out of print, a bummer considering how perfect this one seems for aQ. C'mon! Birchville Cat Motel, Tarentel and Charalambides! Limited to only TWENTY FIVE copies. Arghh. Well somehow we convinced the label to do another pressing just for aQ, so here it is, a killer triple 3" dvd-r set, gorgeously packaged, with three long time aQ faves. Up first is Charalambides, recorded live in Hasselt 2006, several songs, lovely as always, dark and funereal, ethereal, gorgeously shot, super close ups of the guitar, lips against a microphone, lit in reds and blues and purples, a dark stage, nothing but the two players... Really nice, intercut with simple abstract animations and interviews with the band. The second disc is Birchville Cat Motel, recorded live in Gent 2006, and features Campbell Kneale, aka Mr. BCM, lurking on a hellish looking stage, all red lights and dry ice fog, just Kneale's figure hunched over his instruments, mic stands like demon's claws reaching up through the mist, a huge pair of painted eyes behind him on the wall. Kneale sort of swaying back and forth in a total trance, wearing a black mask, singing and twiddling knobs, in a surprisingly tiny space, playing to about 20 people, the sound appropriately massive and thick, even mixing in a loop of Metallica (!), electronic bagpipes, and a Buddha Machine. Awesome. Also includes an interview with Kneale, talking about how nobody in NZ knows who he is, and about his very normal, run of the mill life, he's a school teacher, recording as a solitary process, and other cool stuff. Finally, the third disc features Tarentel live in Geneva and Bern 2006, interviews with the whole band, talking about the development of their sound and creating new sounds, their approach to music making, improvisation, etc. The live stuff features beautiful films drifting behind the band, who are all cloaked in shadow, the sound dark and abstract, low shimmers and abstract drones, thick and textural, fluttering horns and whirring guitars woven into thick rough expanses of muted growl and soft focused creep, laced with tripped out dubby drums. The video includes shots of the club, the bands wandering around, exterior shots, all woven into the super striking live footage. Second pressing just for the aQ faithful, LIMITED TO 30 COPIES!!! The packaging is fantastic, every single one slightly different, sizes, shapes, each one a folded up map, the mini dvd-r's affixed to little nubs on the map, liner notes and little photos affixed to other panels of the map, all folded up in a plastic pouch.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL WITH ANLA COURTIS Three Sparkling Echoes (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We're sort of surprised this match up hadn't already happened before. Pretty much a no brainer. Campbell Kneale, aka Birchville Cat Motel, and Anla Courtis, from the now defunct Reynols. While it most definitely seems like a match made in noise rock heaven, there was definitely the potential for a very chaotic mess, but the two most definitely brought out the best in each other, and the result might just be one of our favorite releases from either of these guys. Three looooong tracks, each a gorgeous and languorous slow build, minimal, but dense and heavily layered, simple propulsive rhythms, and all sorts of warm rich sonic textures. The opener, is maybe one of the most beautiful 'noise rock' tracks EVER. Swirling, beautiful cello-like melodies, low and lumbering, moan and croon, a deep, resonant, cavernous, creeping minor key dirge, lurking mysteriously beneath a swirling cloud of metallic cicadas and oscillating whirs and flutters. One of those tracks that should go on forever. Building gradually in intensity, but never exploding into full on heaviness, instead just drifting dreamlike, until the various sounds peel back leaving just a gorgeous soundscape of simulated nature sounds and abstract ambience. The first time we threw this on we ended up listening to this track 3 or 4 times in a row. But as soon as we could tear ourselves away, we realized that the other two tracks were darn near just as beautiful. The second track is a spacious and spare expanse of tinkling music box chimes, strange percussive thumps, guttural vocalizations, and a warm melodic whir, heavily panned, swooping dramatically from speaker to speaker. Those swoops eventually transforming into thick slabs of guitar whir, a gorgeously glacial epic, rife with muted melodies, and dense with sonic subtleties... The closer pretty much seals the deal. Simple tribal drums, clattery junkyard percussion, over warbly warped FX drenched guitars and a loping dirge-like rhythm building in intensity until the guitars become a huge tangly squall above that static mesmerizing rhythm. It's almost like a noise rock Tom Waits.... like the Black Rider performed by Sunroof! Or a super blissed out take on old Swans. Guitars so thick and warm you just want to curl up and climb under, letting that clattery motorik rhythm just carry you away...
"First Sparkling Echo" MPEG Stream:
"Second Sparkling Echo"
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL WITH LEE RANALDO 30th December 2004 (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Now this is a bit of an odd combination, AQ faves Birchville Cat Motel, aka Campbell Kneale going one on one with none other than Mr. Lee Ranaldo, he of indie noiseniks Sonic Youth. How did it come about? Why did it come about? Who knows, and who really cares as the results speak for themselves. These two fellas, with some kind of 'noise' as their common thread, managed to conjure up some gorgeous dronescapes, that eventually ramp up to some serious NOISE, before drifting back into dreamy shimmery bliss. A single hour long track recorded live in New York at the Tonic in December of 2004 on BCM's last trip to the US, this is a slow building drone, equal parts chord organ, guitars, maybe even bagpipes (at least that's what it sounds like) all sort of swirling and reverberating, with distant tinkling chimes and simple stretched out melodies. About halfway through, Ranaldo kicks it up a notch and lets the distortion rip, a huge wall of white hot guitar, kept in line by a simple and very spare single snare-hit beat, a sort of free noise doom, with little bits of backwards electronic rhythm, and keening lawnmower like guitar melodies. The last fifteen minutes is a sweetly languid wind down, distortion disengaging, rhythms drifting into the ether, melodies dissipating like clouds after a storm, all as the chatter of the crowd slowly encroaches on the barely there sounds that moments later are not there at all.
"30th December 2004"
BIRD AND THE BEE, THE Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates (Blue Note) cd 16.98
There's no shame in our game when we tell you that pretty much every single one of us here at AQ are huge Hall & Oates fans. Not even in some ironic way, we just think there is no denying how damn good, suave and catchy their songs were and are. In fact our own Andee and his pal Jay Lesser even spent some time trying to get their H+O cover band Rich Girl going (although to be fair, much of it had to do with the then current swarthy state of Jay's facial hair, which in Andee's eyes made him a dead ringer for John Oates, but we digress...). In so many ways the music of Hall & Oats is more relevant then ever these days, with a whole new generation of sensitive boys channeling blue eyed soul and swoonsome dance beats (Junior Boys, Washed Out, Hot Chip, Neon Indian, Postal Service, etc.). So it was only a matter of time that someone cashed in on how damn great their songs were and made an entire record of covers. The Bird And The Bee have stepped up and tackled all the biggest and best Hall & Oates hits. "One On One", "Private Eyes", "Rich Girl", "Sara Smile", "Maneater", they're all here. All the songs that have seeped into your subconscious on one level or another, whether you wanted them to or not. But why would you not? As their moniker would imply The Bird And The Bee are a duo who keep things very easy and breezy. The kind of group who has major NPR and KCRW affiliations. Some of us here think they make a great match for these Hall & Oates tunes, letting the songs shine through without ruining them with any forced gimmicks or sonic shtick. Very laid back and simple covers that also display moments where the band are able to really make these songs their own. Sort of. Since so many of us are huge Hall & Oates fans,we did listen to this with very skeptical and critical ears and it's true some of us aren't feeling it as much as others. Lets just say those folks are humming along, sure, but not finding this to be any sort of an improvement on the originals. But if you can use a little light, carefree and smooth interpretations of Hall & Oates classics (sung by a girl, by the way) in your life then this does the trick mighty fine.
"I Can't Go For That" MPEG Stream:
"Sara Smile" MPEG Stream:
BIRD AND THE BEE, THE s/t (Blue Note) cd 14.98
The Bird And The Bee describe their music as sounding like "A futuristic 1960's American film set in Brazil." This may be an accurate depiction of their sound, but the sixties are long gone. Fast forward to 2007 where, you too, may have noticed the ever-growing popularity of indie-pop backing primetime programming. Our money is on the band's music gracing the soundtrack of shows like The O.C. or Grey's Anatomy. The L.A. based duo's sound is not innovative, but a very well done version of the same lounge-pop we have grown to know and love from bands like Broadcast and Camera Obscura. In fact, the whimsical vocal styling of Inara George is so familiar, you might find it difficult not to go digging through your record collection to pinpoint her former projects. A quick web search reveals that George met band mate Greg Kurstin a few years ago. The two quickly formed a friendship predicated upon their mutual love for old jazz standards (George is the daughter of the late Little Feat guitarist/singer Lowell George; Kurstin studied jazz piano with Mingus's pianist). In 2005 George recorded a solo album with producer Mike Andrews Ð Kurstin provided some of the backing instrumentation for that album. While the pair's love of old jazz standards may only shine through for the discerning ear, anyone can appreciate the talent brought forth on their debut album. Kurstin plays nearly all of the instruments on the record, and you don't have to be a jazz aficionado to realize that he is a damn good pianist. The electric organ and synth melodies are unpretentious and come off California-surfy on some songs and a tinge psychedelic on others, but never distract from the bitter-sweet airy vocals put forth by George as she describes the often gritty push and pull of life and love.
"Again & Again" MPEG Stream:
BIRD BY SNOW Antlers And The Sun (Gnome Life Records) lp 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Folky-psyche bliss featuring Spencer Doran (Cloaks) and members of Whysp and Residual Echoes. Records are hand screened on recycled sleaves with clear red vinyl!
BIRD BY SNOW Common Wealth (Gnome Life) cd 11.98
Soft and mystical, Bird By Snow have been making dreamy folk pop with psych-ish elements for the past few years. Featuring former members of Whysp and Residual Echoes, their latest effort, Common Wealth, produced by Tim Green is their strongest to date, perfectly marrying strong songwriting with an elegant ambiance of needlepoint guitar work, spacious drumming and pretty female backing vocals. A perfect record to cozy up to a fire in the dark winter months. Fans of Vetiver, Hush Arbors, and Weird Weeds should check this out.
"Wobbly Legs" MPEG Stream:
"There Is A Marriage"
BIRD BY SNOW Common Wealth (Gnome Life) lp 15.98
Soft and mystical, Bird By Snow have been making dreamy folk pop with psych-ish elements for the past few years. Featuring former members of Whysp and Residual Echoes, their latest effort, Common Wealth, produced by Tim Green is their strongest to date, perfectly marrying strong songwriting with an elegant ambiance of needlepoint guitar work, spacious drumming and pretty female backing vocals. A perfect record to cozy up to a fire in the dark winter months. Fans of Vetiver, Hush Arbors, and Weird Weeds should check this out. LP is limited to 550 copies on white vinyl and comes with a 10" x 10" booklet of lyrics and artwork, and a coupon to download the record digitally.
"Wobbly Legs" MPEG Stream:
"There Is A Marriage"
BIRD BY SNOW Industrial Collapse (Gnome Life Records) 7" 4.98
BIRD BY SNOW Sky (Gnome Life Records) lp 12.98
BIRD BY SNOW Subtle Body (Gnome Life) cassette 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
BIRD OF OMEN Eulogy (Hand Hewn Timbre) 3"cd-r 5.98
After six releases as Monument Of Urns, whose blackened doom has long been a favorite with aQ metalheads, the mysterious man behind Urns returns with a new project, Bird Of Omen, meticulously packaged like the Urns releases in gorgeous hand screened printed vellum oversized sleeves, which led us to believe that Bird Of Omen would be a sonic continuation of the black dirgery of Urns, when in fact, BoO is something else entirely. In fact before we get into it, we'd say that ANYone into Barn Owl, Earth and that sort of Morricone influenced dronefolk desert twang, should definitely check out Bird Of Omen, cuz that's definitely what BoO is all about. Some of the blackness and doominess of Urns is definitely present, but it's much more subtle, more in the ambience, and the vibe, cuz the vibe is definitely brooding and haunting, whipping winds, howling wolves, all over a distant drone, a rumbling low end, and subtly spacey shimmer, over which a guitar unfurls twangy tendrils of minor key guitar, the sound slightly distorted and blown out, so the low notes go into the red, and add a bit of distortion, the background low end droning ominously, and drifting in and our like some mysterious black sonic swell. And in fact, the more we listen to this, the more we can imagine how easy it would be to transform this into a Monument Of Urns record, and which also made us realize that minus the distortion, Bird Of Omen is not that far removed from Urns, the same sort of dismal miserablism, the same sort of brooding trudge, a lumbering slo-mo slither, but where Urns doused that in distorted guitars, here, those sounds are spare and unadorned, maybe wrapped in a bit of echo and delay, and in some weird way, the sound manages to be just as doomy. And the closing track, which might be our favorite, sounds a bit like Barn Owl mixed with Skepticism. The twang dialed way back, letting the murky low end drive the song, a grim black creep, surrounded by field recordings, voices, the sound of rain, and a final coda that hints at the doom that lurks in the background as the sound swells into a squall of detuned buzz and swirling feedback, before finally fading out, truly haunting and harrowing. So great! As mentioned above, gorgeous packaging, a printed vellum outer sleeve over a screen printed inner sleeve, the 3"cd-r affixed to the inside.
"Euolgy I" MPEG Stream:
BIRD OF OMEN What Was Once There Is Now Gone (Hand Hewn Timbre) 3" cd-r 5.98
Second release from Bird Of Omen, the new-ish project from the man behind Monument Of Urns, whose gorgeous blackened doom, spread out over six super limited cd-r's, was a huge favorite around here. And as we mentioned in our review of Eulogy, the first Bird Of Omen, the sound, while still ominous and doomy, was well removed from the crumbling distorted sludge of Monument Of Urns, and instead trafficked in something more akin to groups like Barn Owl and Earth - dusky and atmospheric, haunting twang-flecked drone-folk. On What Was Once There Is Now Gone, the sound of Bird Of Omen seems to have bridged the gap between the two groups, taking the more refined melodic sound of Eulogy, and adding some seriously abject atmosphere, the opening track here a hauntingly harrowing creepy crawl, a moody, mournful, melancholy sprawl of distant black metal guitar buzz, blurred into dreamy smears of sounds, laced with delicate piano, and intense minor key chords, beneath which seems to lurk a gristly buzzing low end synth. It's so atmospheric and cinematic, it sounds like it could be the score for some super austere arthouse horror flick, in fact it has a sort of Carpenter credits vibe, especially, when the helicopter synth pulsations surface, and things get a tiny bit kosmische, still within the context of the blackened ambient moodiness. The bridged gap is even more evident on the second track, which explodes immediately into full on doom. Churning, crushing slow motion dirgery, but dragging some of that opening track atmosphere with it, the choppy rhythmic pulsing synth, the blackened shadowy swirls, all draped over a glacial tarpit trudge, that distant black metal buzz slightly more prominent, and endless sonic death march, that eventually sheds much of the crumbling buzz, leaving just the pointillist piano, and atmospheric shimmer of the first track, the outro returning to that funereal creep that started things off, before one more blast of blurred downtuned slo-mo doom-sludge, but again, while it's all churning heaviness, the sounds are muted, and blunted and smeared into something weirdly atmospheric, washed out and a little woozy, shades of Finnish doomlords Skepticism for sure, but BoO's sound is more caustic, building to a fierce noise drenched coda, before winding down into a strange bit of droned out mesmer, replete with weirdly effected twang, and gristled ominous thrum. Once again, fucking amazing stuff. How some big label hasn't swooped in by now we'll never know, both Monument Of Urns and Birds Of Omen and pretty much everything this guy does, definitely deserves much more widespread exposure, but for now, grab this, and anything else you can get your hands on. You won't be sorry. Like all the Urns releases and the other BoO, fantastically elaborate handmade packaging, an oversized full color sleeve, with a printed vellum outer cover, released on the artist's own Hand Hewn Timbre label, and yeah, probably pretty limited...
"I" MPEG Stream:
BIRD SHOW Lightning Show (Kranky) cd 14.98
BIRD TRAPS Don't Be So Reckless (Black Cross Recordings) cd-r 9.98
A copy of this just showed up in the mail one day, all the way from Australia, a long time ago, but then somehow disappeared, lost we can only assume, amidst all of the stuff that is continually piling up here at aQ. Eventually, after some back and forth with the band we managed to secure another copy, and WOW are we glad we did. We were expecting something heavy and dark, not sure if it's the name that maybe had us confusing them with the Bird Blobs (bad ass Aussie garage punks) or the fact that they were pals with the Grey Daturas, either way, this is anything but dark and heavy, instead, Bird Traps traffic in something much more ethereal and ephemeral, slow shimmering soundscapes, cinematic and warm, lush and emotional, long slowly unfurling melancholic melodies, sun dappled and soft focus, dreamlike abstract chamber music of sorts reminding us of William Basinski, the Caretaker, Rachel's, Klimek, Max Richter, Tim Hecker, Belong, but unlike many of those sound sculptors, the music of Bird Traps is not distorted, or decayed, not warped or blown out, but IS hushed and delicate, mysterious and gauzy, a softly spun series of mini epics, long tones stretched out over hazy expanses of minimal whir, of blurred minimal melody, the songs developing gradually, soft swells giving way to gentle washes of crystalline sound, completely mesmerizing, able to envelop the listener in a velvet cocoon of sonic tranquility, but infused with just enough pathos and emotion, to make the sounds compelling, evocative, intimate and intense. A soundtrack to a slowly shifting, nearly static sepia toned film of the sky melting into the horizon, the stars fading into the cloak of night, this world slipping into the next...
"Floorboards" MPEG Stream:
"Don't Be So Reckless"
BIRD, ANDREW Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum) cd 14.98
We're guessin' that with his latest full length, Andrew Bird's already rapt followers will become even more so... and be joined by a whole bunch of new fans too. If you're already familiar with this unassuming, sensitive singer/songwriter, Armchair Apocrypha needs no introduction. It's a terrific progression from his last album Mysterious Production Of Eggs (2005). On songs like "Armchairs", Bird recalls the soft rock mellowness of '70s bands like Bread or America. On other tunes such as "Cataracts" he's more folksy leaning, bringing to mind contemporaries M. Ward, Will Oldham, or Ron Sexsmith. He closes the album with a haunting instrumental. Charming, pretty and never heavy-handed.
"Armchairs" MPEG Stream:
BIRD, ANDREW Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum) lp 14.98
NOW AVAILABLE ON VINYL! We're guessin' that with his latest full length, Andrew Bird's already rapt followers will become even more so... and be joined by a whole bunch of new fans too. If you're already familiar with this unassuming, sensitive singer/songwriter, Armchair Apocrypha needs no introduction. It's a terrific progression from his last album Mysterious Production Of Eggs (2005). On songs like "Armchairs", Bird recalls the soft rock mellowness of '70s bands like Bread or America. On other tunes such as "Cataracts" he's more folksy leaning, bringing to mind contemporaries M. Ward, Will Oldham, or Ron Sexsmith. He closes the album with a haunting instrumental. Charming, pretty and never heavy-handed.
"Armchairs" MPEG Stream:
BIRD, ANDREW Break It Yourself (Mom + Pop) cd 13.98
BIRD, ANDREW Break It Yourself (Mom + Pop) 2lp 13.98
BIRD, ANDREW Noble Beast (Fat Possum) cd 13.98
BIRD, ANDREW The Mysterious Production of Eggs (Righteous Babe) cd 16.98
After enjoying Andrew Bird's latest album we thought we'd do a little backtracking and revisit his last album, 2005's The Mysterious Production Of Eggs which was released on Ani DiFranco's label Righteous Babe. Although he's been makin' some fine music since 1996, it was this album that really charmed lush pop loving ears far and wide. If you looked up "a distant, less eccentric, yet equally exceptional singer/songwriter cousin of Howe Gelb and M. Ward" in the dictionary, you just might find this gent. Polished, dark, elegant and earthy pop goodness for fans of the abovementioned fellows as well as Ron Sexsmith, Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley.
"Sovay" MPEG Stream:
BIRDFLESH Night of the Ultimate Mosh (Razorback) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Totally silly yet utterly killer grind metal from Sweden, featuring somebody from Nasum. The trio of Achmed Abdulex, Moshbastard, and Smattro Ansjovis (guitar, bass, drums respectively) thrash out ditties with titles like "Night Of The Ultimate Mosh", "Coffinfucker" and "Bowelthrasher", with typical grind-gore themes of blood and violence. Yet when you read the lyrics you'll see they're not entirely serious. And they also do songs that are a bit more unusual, like "Catmouth", which goes: "I pick up my cat, hold it in my arms/I take a smell, of its mouth/it doesn't smell good - CATMOUTH!/it doesn't smell bad - CATMOUTH!" What? There's also a song about having crows in your nose. Huh? Birdflesh also throw in a smattering of violin and clarinet for spice, again not typical of their genre. But on pure grindcore terms they're no slouches either, raging with the best of 'em. Get this and you've got twenty-two mosh-friendly tracks of 100 mph absurdo-grind to enjoy whilst you peruse the lyric sheet for more gems like "Catmouth". Kinda like Agoraphobic Nosebleed or Nasum with the humorous spirit of a Spazztic Blurr.
"Coffinfucker" RealAudio clip:
"Night Of The Ultimate Mosh" RealAudio clip:
"Bowelthrasher" RealAudio clip:
"Carmolesting Dead" RealAudio clip:
"Victim Of The Grind"
BIRDFLESH / HATEBEAK Happy Death / The Thing That Should Not Beak (Relapse) 7" 3.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally! The return of our favorite parrot fronted grind metal outfit, Hatebeak! And as if realizing that a bird squawking along to death metal might be a one trick pony, the band has gone and mixed things up, turning their jokey avian death metal into something way more weird and damaged and in the long run, an even better (and more musically complex) joke. It's still high concept: Waldo the parrot is lead vocalist for the band Hatebeak, a play on the band Hatebreed we can only assume. This time, the cover is some horrible creature (Cthulhu we presume) with a parrot perched on its shoulder. Titled "The Thing That Should Not Beak" coupled with the track "Hellbent For Feathers" (Metallica and Judas Priest jokes respectively for the metallically dim out there) and the Hatebeak logo is done in the style of the Relapse Records logo... it's all very funny, metal nerd inside jokes, but the thing is, as a band, Hatebeak totally shred! The two tracks are bookended by what ends up being a parrot prank call, but in between it's raging, complex, super technical grinding death metal. Another one of those bands that had they ditched the whole bird on vocals angle, could probably be huge! And this time it's not just regular old bird squawks and squeaks, Waldo's 'vocals' are bizarre, obviously overdubbed, they go from strange almost talking, to screeches, to weird guttural almost death metal vocals, all tangled up amidst insanely brutal, super stop start grinding metal mayhem. Awesome! On the B side are Swedish goof grinders Birdflesh, chosen for their monicker as much as their sound we'd assume, but sonically, they are the perfect match, a whole bunch of songs crammed onto their side, fast and furious, technical and brutal, and just a little bit goofy, like their bizarre, costumed band photos on the cover. Pressed on swirled lime green vinyl and as with most things like this, extremely limited!
BIRDMAN 5 Star Stunna (Limited Edition) (Universal) cd 14.98
BIRDMONSTER No Midnight (self-released) cd 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Following up their bright punchy 3-song self-titled ep debut, Birdmonster deliver a full baker's dozen. With No Midnight, they do their best to keep the college rock fires burning -- meaning lots of crunchy, buzzing guitars and emotive male vocals churned out at a driving pace. Occasionally though they get into a bit more somber, sullen territory ("Balcony" and the title track for instance) than on their last release, but they also bring back a little rootsy rock into numbers such as "The Bar At The Back Of The Basement". Both are used to good effect. Note: one song from the debut ep makes a reappearance here ("All The Holes In The Walls").
"Skeleton Suit" MPEG Stream:
BIRDMONSTER s/t EP (self-released) cd ep 4.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Here's an all too brief introduction to this terrific new Bay Area band. These four boys churn out three fiery indie rock tunes with loads of energy, angst and passion. Birdmonster's music has frequently been compared to that of Modest Mouse, and we can definitely hear why (particularly in the vocal department), but they're actually far more rootsy and boot-stompin'. Probably pretty great live! Even from just this handful of songs, their finely tuned songcraft is more than apparent. A very promising debut.
"All The Holes In The Walls"