Bird Show: Green Inferno (Kranky, 2005)

by Jason

Bird ShowBird Show is the solo project of Ben Vida of <b>Town and Country. He is an experimental, improvisational artist who has collected sounds and uses instruments to produce his compositions. He blends animal sounds, vocals, and world beats and sounds to produce an other culturally feel. Green Inferno is a collection of sounds that mesh together with various string instruments. This disc is, once again, not for the faint of heart. It is certainly experimental and certainly grating in places, but there are very beautiful pieces alongside the more intense moments.

“All Afternoon Part 1” begins with an outside feel of birds chirping, then dissonant horns and fuzz overpower the birds and bring a loud sort of world vibe to the beginning of the album. Perhaps Vida wants us to feel as if we are walking through a forest dense with tribal life, thick foliage, and the sounds of nature. “Kind Light” brings a peaceful piece for the listeners. There is a soft vocal and an almost soft animal growl. An acoustic guitar plays in between the sounds and a beautiful ring that hums under all the sounds. “Green Inferno” has reverberating vocals, scissor type sounds and some jungle drums. It is a soothing track that is beautiful and deep. “Always/Never Sleep Part #1” is a beautiful ambient piece ala Stars of the Lid. There is simple, subtle bass and floating keys. This track is soothing and spacious. “Always/Never Sleep Part #2” starts out with a low rumble. This also is a beautiful, brief track that kind of gives a closing remark to “Sleep Part 1” and the center of the disc has a very smooth anchored feel to it.

“Tracers” has some interesting percussion sounds and, perhaps, Vida is making what sounds like insects come alive with instruments. There are sprinkles of birds here and there. Vida’s compositions, when not entirely ambient, have a very organic feel to them. He portrays an interesting aesthetic. “Morning/Evening” begins with violin and soft, recessed vocals. The violin pans from left to right and really has an odd feel to it. This continues throughout and I can’t help but think that insects were the inspiration for this track as well. About half way through the tracks, the panning violin is replaced by a higher pitch sound that pans as well. There is quiet vox in the background and the track drops instrumentation until it fades out.

“Landlovers” starts with organ and soft, echoing vocals again. There is what seems like a horn sound floating amidst the organs. The vox remind me of Frank Lenz or Justin Bowsher. There is a great, listless feel to this track that is altogether comforting. The disc finishes with “All Afternoon Part 1 (Dawn of the Dead).” This track begins like the first and the bird sounds once again float into the chaos of tribal beats and sounds. After the mid-point of the track, the sounds begin to grate on the nerves with little to no variation in the overall structure or sound. Vida exit to his disc is just as his beginning. He ushers his listener out with the chaos and birds that brought the listener in. The calm moments of the center of the disc have disappeared from the inner sanctuary of Bird Show’s world.

My assessment is that this is a good disc. There are incredibly beautiful moments on it, but I am not sure about the amount of dissonant first and last tracks. “Dawn of the Dead” is perhaps too long and over stays it’s welcome. Where Vida shines is more towards the middle of the disc, when calm and serene moments hit the listener’s ear.

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