Electric Bird Noise is headed up by South Carolina musician Brian Lea McKenzie, who I first reviewed way back in 1999 when Aural Innovations was still a printed mag. Well Brian is still at it, and as I re-read my earlier reviews it seems Electric Bird Noise was originally a band, though it’s now a McKenzie solo project, with vocals on two tracks by Silber Records label honcho Brian John Mitchell (BJM), who readers might recognize from his own projects, Remora and Small Life Form.
Desert Jelly incorporates elements of Space Rock, Krautrock and early 80s Post-Punk and Synth Pop to create a varied set of 11 tracks that are simultaneously modern and retro. The album opens with Dunebuggy, which got me thinking of Can with classic Prog keyboards and spaced out alien synths. It’s dark and intense, with a Krautrocking Teutonic feel. Peter Hook is next and I’m guessing the Peter Hook of the title is the bassist from Joy Division and New Order; indeed the song has a distinct early 80s melodic sound, though Brian injects heavy intensity into the music, and like the opening track it’s nicely embellished with space electronics. This segues smoothly into the title track, which pulls back into a quiet, left-to-right channel pulsating drone wave for starts, soon joined by additional pleasant electro-soundscape patterns and melodic guitar (or keyboard?). It’s all very peaceful and then BAM!!…. we’re smacked full in the chops by the blazing space-punk of the appropriately titled I Miss Those Hardcore Kids. As The Glitter Glows begins as a whimsically melodic electronic piece, then launches into another early 80s styled tune that includes a motorik rhythmic pulse and space electronics. This is one damn good catchy tune! Welcome To Static Beach features swirling flying saucer sounds and whirring 50s sci-fi film styled effects for the first couple minutes, and then kicks into a dark, droning atmospheric rocker. Continuing the sci-fi flick motif, I Come From The Earth would make a great soundtrack theme song. It’s got a cool combination of tribal percussion, multiple soaring electronics, and BJM repeating the line, “I Come From The Earth”. Returning to the 80s influences, Carnegiea Gigantea is a pleasant, melodic, hook-laden 80s styled electo-pop tune but with the spaced out edge that characterizes the rest of the album. Pants And Sake Take The Neighborhood is a peaceful melodic soundscapes piece. The Theme From Impationly Yours is a deep space Kraftwerkian synth-pop tune with BJM on vocals. And I love the high intensity chaos-in-space of the closing track, Burned By The Sands Fire And Scars Alone I Wait Counting The Stars.
Well I gotta say this is hands down the best Electric Bird Noise album I’ve heard yet. In some ways its a celebration of the early 80s, though Brian puts his own stamp on the music and, of course, I love the way he sends it all hurling into space.
For more information visit the Silber Records web site at: http://www.silbermedia.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz