Agitated Atmosphere: Bird Show Band – Bird Show Band

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Bird Show.

The destruction of the Moog at the hands of Ben Vida has been an ongoing journey for more than a decade with various and unpredictable twists and turns. His latest adventure under the Bird Show moniker happens to find Vida as band leader with the addition of a band into his repertoire of futuristic dissonance. The self titled Bird Show Band full-length — just released from the up-and-coming NYC label Amish Records — provides a hefty juxtaposition to the wealth of synth-based music creeping onto unsuspecting ears.

Bird Show Band expands on the ‘In the Year 3000′ jams that have become a calling card for likeminded artists such as Daniel Lopatin, Taylor Richardson, and Keith Fullerton Whitman (who will be sharing a split 12″ with Vida later this year). Rather than a singular sound reflecting the cosmic chaos of Carl Sagan’s wet dreams, Vida and his newly christened crew place the sounds of the Moog in two distinct camps: twisted jam band signets and isolated radio experiments. The album’s opener, “Quintet One,” has the band exploring the same group dynamics of a modern jazz outfit — not too far off from latter day Medeski, Martin, and Wood if the keyboards of John Medeski were replaced with the pulsating syncopations of synthesized music. The back half of Bird Show Band is loaded with variants of the quintet theme. These blends between haywire technology and classic jazz phrasing create a potent blend and do more to further the cause of synthesizers as a renewable and sustainable form of musical progression.

Listen to “Quintet Four”:

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When Vida separates himself from the band aspect, melody is lost and the artistic merit of the Moog is explored. “BSB Synthesizer Solo” is a mess of half-baked effects and unpredictable drips that become the album’s pinnacle rather than a nuisance. “Little Song” is a long strand of taffy, slowly being pulled and manipulated by Vida’s meaty paws. Unlike the album’s other solo jaunt, “Little Song” is far more controlled — almost eerily so. Vida’s work is another creature altogether and the blend of the solitary Moog with the warm womb of mid-20th Century jazz is a welcomed intrusion into the darkness synth has wrought. Just when the scene could have grown stale, Vida (like his contemporaries) has proven much is to be mined from the still-green electronic world.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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