The Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock
Reviews by GEPR
Bierylo, Michael [USA] : Life Line (86), Cloud Chorus (87) US Guitarist that produced two albums in the mid-80’s: Life Line and Cloud Chorus. Both are relatively low key projects featuring acoustic and processed electric, with guest musicians on other instruments. Very nice, very spacey, but the second one tends to get a little new-agey. Birdsongs of the Mesozoic [USA] EP (83), Magnetic Flip (84), Beat of the Mesozoic EP (86), Sonic Geology (88), Faultline (89), Pyroclastics (92), The Fossil Record (93) First off, I must say that aside fromThe Fossil Record, I have not heard any of their other studio material. I have, however, seen them live a few times in the past year or two. The Fossil Record is a collection of studio material from the “early years” of Birdsongs that didn’t find its way onto any of their albums. How does it compare to the rest of their work? Well, judging from their recent live performances, I would say they have matured quite a bit as composers, and their sound has also grown much fuller. Birdsongs play a unique, quirky mixture of minimalism, 20th century “classical,” and prog. One can hear strains of Steve Reich, Stravinsky, Satie, Louis Andriessen, and Univers Zero running through their pieces, and they are not afraid to use a little musical humor on occasion. The music on this CD, however, betrays their influences as well as their “formula” a bit more than the material I’ve seen them perform live. Most of their pieces develop by taking a theme, usually melodic, and rhythmically and harmonically fragmenting and mutating it. This deconstruction works beautifully at times, but as with other musical “processes,” the process can sometimes overshadow the music. I saw them perform a piece which was announced as a cover of a song off of The Yes Album, the challenge being to figure out which one. Though I am quite familiar with The Yes Album, I still couldn’t figure out what song they were deconstructing. It didn’t matter. The music stood on its own, apart from the clever process. Some of the pieces on The Fossil Record work as well as that one did, while there are others that don’t. There are about 15 tracks filling up more than 70 minutes on the CD. The last track is a 23 minute piece called “To a Random“; a *very* sparse and atmospheric piece written to accompany a film of the same name. The rest of the songs are mostly in the 3-6 minute range. I am eager to hear some of their newer studio material, and I imagine albums like Faultline are probably in fact a better place to start for those new to Birdsongs. Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile compilation that will definitely be of interest to fans of Birdsongs. And no matter what your tastes in prog are, don’t miss these guys live if you get a chance to see them! Birdsongs of the Mesozoic are one of those unclassifiable groups. I have two of their albums Sonic Geology and Faultline. SG is a compilation of their first three albums, with two bonus tracks. This is the one I would recommend people to start with. Their music is a mixed bag of punk, post-punk, progressive, avant-guard, and classical (there are probably several other styles thrown in for good measure). Their music is pretty much all electronic (I believe they had three keyboardists at one point).