Last year (2007) Dan Britton said he is starting yet another project called "Birds and Buildings" that will release an album in 2008. After being very enthusiastic about his other bands, Cerebus Effect (CE) and Deluge Grander (DG) I was highly anticipating this one. He was also very kind to send me this album for reviewing.
Unlike its name, the album does not go from Bantam to Behemoth, but rather starts as a Behemoth and stays as such during the whole of it.
Starting with a high energy rhythm reminiscing of zeuhl, this album goes straight to business. This first track is mesmerizing, passionate and exhilarating. However, there a great deal of variety in this album and you will experience many different sounds, styles and atmospheres before the end of this more than one hour long album. But fear not, this zeuhlish element will come again later on in the album (6, 8).
As rich sounding as the previous albums; as complex and well structured and composed; as varied and enjoyable – this album shows again what a fantastic composer Dan Britton is. I can’t imagine him doing something I will dislike.
The music here shifts and covers many different styles, from the aforementioned zeuhl to jazz and rock; it also covers many grounds in terms of mood – from fast, intense and even nervous to the calm and peaceful; and always beautiful and thrilling.
I hear this album as a mixing of the intensity and style of Cerebus Effect and the grandiosity and epic-ness of Deluge Grander – the sound here is in a way a mixing of the two to create something new.
There are places where the CE sound if very dominant and "visible" like in parts of the first track "Birds Flying Into Buildings" and the third track "Tunguska". The edgy and frisky keyboards sound pierces through making again allusion to the Canterbury sound. The effect is enhanced by the addition of a saxophone culminating in a marvelous sound painting.
In addition to the music being gorgeous and enthralling, the musicianship here is top notch. Whether it’s the great sax, flute and clarinet playing, the enthusiastic and dynamic drumming (two different drummers on different tracks) and the always captivating keyboards, all is done very well, and always manages to convey the emotions and mental images efficiently.
Speaking of those, listening to the album while studying the art work raised some questions in my mind which I will ask Dan about, but before that let me mention the awesome layout of the album.
The art work inside the album is captivating and as the press notes say, each 3 tracks create a small trilogy each and those 3 trilogies are also intertwined and form a closed circle. This is noticeable in the music which seems to flow from one track to the next and each consecutive track seems to carry some element or pattern from its previous.
This cyclic feature is also portrayed in the inside art work which seem to adjust to the track titles so that each picture depicts one track; the art work is a continuous piece, like the music and it ends where it began (although not exactly if you look carefully) and thus closes the circle. Those pictures can be seen in the Myspace website of the band.
Now back to one of the questions I mentioned, is the appearance of the words Miranda and Spark as mountains in the paintings (think mount Rushmore). Miranda may allude to "The Solitude of Miranda" the last track from the DG album, "August in the Urals". The acoustic guitar reminiscent of a Spanish style in the track "Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass" might also refer to that track as it had a Flamenco styled guitar playing.
All this only strengthens the mixing I mentioned in the beginning, of the two previous bands sounds – that of DG and that of CE – into one coherent sound that makes up B&B.
Lastly, much like "August in the Urals" there is much to absorb here. Not only are the tracks long, but the abundance of elements and styles combined with the structure makes it an album to be listened to well several times until one can safely say he knows and understands it.
This album is recommended to those who liked the previous Dan Britton projects as well as to people who like an amalgam of styles and bands like Panzerpappa.
Moreover, this album is highly recommended to all those who want spice in their music, creativity, variety, sophistication, thrill and excitement.
In other words, go get this album!
Elegant Symphonic Prog
The album is a 70-minute sonic adventure, composed with brilliance and executed with a 70's vintage musical production. It's one of the better marriages of Magma with Genesis. Vocals could be better, but the playing is lush and elegant. Keyboards work is intricate yet melodic, and all horns (sax, flutes & clarinet) are an important addition to the sound tapestry. Built like a symphony, arranged with great skill, this is a truly unique work which sounds like an immediate classic. Well worth your 9$ (mp3) for repeat listens.