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Album Review

With Pyroclastics, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic returned somewhat to its roots. Its signature sound — pulsing keyboards, jagged harmonies, weird time signatures, slash-and-burn guitar — is back stronger than ever; "Shortwave Longride" and "Pleasure Island" would both have sounded more or less at home on Magnetic Flip (except for the presence of Ken Field's saxophone). And the band's hilarious rendition of the theme from The Simpsons is a wry look backwards as well, a reminder of the arrangement of the Rocky and Bullwinkle theme on their first album. Field has managed to insinuate himself so seamlessly into the Birdsongs sound by this point that while his saxophone lines do alter it noticeably, they do so subtly and from the inside — note, in particular, the subtle jazz flavoring he gives to "Tyronglaea II" (otherwise an archetypal piece of old-fashioned Mesozoicism). The band also takes another run at Brian Eno's "Sombre Reptiles" (a piece they had tackled in an unreleased recording from 1983) and comes up with a surprisingly gentle (if ultimately unremarkable) rendition of Brian Wilson's hymn-like "Our Prayer." Pyroclastics definitely marks a step forward for this band, but it remains rooted in its old strengths. Recommended.


Formed: 1980 in Boston, MA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in 1980, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic play a unique mix of rock, punk, classical, minimalism, and free-form music, with occasional forays into even more unexpected directions, including spoken word performance and African-American spirituals. The group's diverse instrumentation has included piano, synthesizers, guitar, saxophones, flutes, and electronic and acoustic percussion. Birdsongs began as a side project by Roger Miller and Martin Swope, who were members of the Boston band Mission of Burma....
Full Bio
Pyroclastics, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic
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