CD Review by Michael C. Mahan, Alternative Press

Boston’s proud contribution to the world of true progressive music present their sixth, and possible their strongest, album to date. Originally intended as a side project for Mission of Burma guitarists Roger Miller and Martin Swope, the Birdsongs have continued long after the Mission collapsed.

Miller left the band in 1988, and this record showcases Swope’s last contribution, but keyboard/percussionists Erik Lindgren and Rick Scott, complemented by saxophonist Ken Field, remain. The results are staggering.

The Birdsongs have always exhibited a mesmerizingly complex use of keys and guitar, perpetually changing with a blend of Rock-in-Opposition precision and joyful abandon. Field’s sax adds emotion to the mix. His work is reminiscent of the heartfelt wailing of Roxy’s Andy Mackay as well as the fusion-laced playfulness of Piirpauke’s Sakari Kukko.

This record features three covers. There is a faithful rendering of Eno’s “Sombre Reptiles“, a hymn-like interpretation of Brian Wilson’s “Our Prayer,” and a downright silly serving of Dan Elfman’s TV theme for The Simpsons.

Of the two stand-out originals, one is itself a derivation. Lindgren’s “Tomorrow Never Came” contains the same melodic flow of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows“, but is played with the same wonderful jazz abandon that characterizes the Scandinavian fusion sound. The other stand-out is “Why Not Circulate”, Field’s playful bossa-nova, featuring a delightful mix of heavy-metal guitar, folk fusion lead sax, and Latin-flavored piano/percussion rhythms. This record is a pure delight.

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