Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic - Dawn Of The Cycads [Cuneiform Records - 2008]For already 28 years Birdsongs Of the Mesozoic has been making music and up until now I haven't heard any of it. The group started as a sideproject from the equally unknown-by-me Mission Of Burma. When that band split up the Birdsongs became a full-time band for everybody involved.
Watching the musicians and their instruments listed on Dawn of The Cycads I notice a lot of old keyboards: Farfisa, Moog and the infamous DX-7, which can be considered just as vintage now. Listening to the music I found out the pianonow that's vintageis dominant. The collection of ep's from between 1983 and 1986, with an extra live recording from 1987, doesn't sound particularly 'electronic' as the listed instruments listed may have suggested. I guess that the fact that this music is played rather than programmed (with the exception of a couple of rhythm machines) is what makes it 'rock'. Even though it's not exactly straightforward rock, the music is very composed and has one leg firmly standing in the tradition of chamber music. So the combination of structures of composers like Bartók and Stravinsky combined with the power of rockband, yet a rock band where keyboards dominate the guitar. Unusual harmonies are found in their well thought out compositions and it's almost no surprise that they did a version of Igor Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring. It blends in perfectly with their own material, it's actually one of the easier tunes to digest on first listen thanks to the familiarity of the themes.
Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic is a very original band. People who already loved them will be pleased with this fine collection of classic material augmented with bonuses in the form of three extra songs, extra graphic files on disc 2 and linernotes. If you're new to their unique sound, like myself, you might need to give it a few spins. The material may be about 25 years old I must say it's hard to place it in a timeframe. Although you can recognize the eighties here and there (mostly when the drum machine steps foreward like in Pulse Piece) it often could just as well be recorded only last year, so I think you could say it aged quite well.