BIRDBATH – And Then (Ingue) – Slightly itchy rather twitchy lo-fi indie post-rock. Seems the Bristol band have been around (albeit rather stutteringly) since their teenage days of 1994. Rather original sounding mathy adventure of a Cove, Charlottefield, Truman’s Water, Rob Crow, Slint nature, maybe an easier far more fragile (and English) Cheer Accident, and maybe a little psychedelic in a black and white technicolour kind of way here and there when they have a mind to be. Birdbath have a little edge of their own and just when you think you have them worked out, they go and throw in a nice little alternative rewarding curveball or two – well worth your time - www.myspace.com/birdbath or www.myspace.com/inguerecords
Organ/resonance fm play on 24-02-08 www.organart.demon.co.uk/playlist45.htm
Here at New-Noise, we love that personal touch. So when an album from plucky noiseniks Birdbath lands in our postbox with an inlay that begins "to new-noise", all lower case, you know we're on to a good thing. Only if it was made from letter cut out of tabloids would we be more impressed.
"bIRdbATh have just released their 2nd album and recently played alongside Trumans Water, though things were not always so rosy…" it reads. Listening to it, things don't even sound that rosy now. Blimey.
Their effort '…and then' follows a decade of hard graft floating around the West Country – well, sporadic hard graft, at least. The records show more hiatuses than gigs. One show at the Bristol Carling Academy urged an EMI A&R man to waft a contract under their noses, as long as they “got an image and a Marilyn Manson type front man”. Admirably, they laughed in his face. This would be the same EMI that Guy Hands is currently running into the ground. So it goes.
This same disjointed nature can be heard in their sound. At once laden with emotion yet as cold and sparse as Arctic tundra. Spiky but strangely comforting, like being attacked by a duvet. It’s a hazy, smoky, stoned mash of everything from Mogwai and Shellac to Sonic Youth but rarely anything but itself. Album opener ‘Silence Is The New Heavy Metal’ says it all by saying very little – the song is about 70 per cent through before the – even then fairly minimal – vocals kick in.
Currently in the throws of a second – or third or fourth, maybe – wind, a slew of material is promised, along with a national tour. A tidy reminder that, for all the right reasons to be in this field, carving out a career isn’t one of them.
Birdbath - ...And then
I don't lose any sleep over this, but from time to time, maybe once every couple of weeks, I feel sorry for most teenagers growing up reading the NME these days. Despite it's obvious and somewhat sickening decline, the worry is that all the stupendously pretentious fun I had going through the teenage motions is being glossed over. It's little wonder that this generations teenagers spend every other night vomiting their intestines over their Fratellis t shirts and organise Pigeon Detective-themed snortalong Skins parties if the idea of these things being hip and tasty aren't pasted infront of their eyes like cartoon depictions of Morrisseys own 'Eraserhead' But I digress, In 1999 a whole generation grew up boring, pretentious, asexual and odiously moralistic. Tonight we're going to party like we're listening to post rock in 1999.
For anyone who spent forty seconds a week trawling through the 'On' section of NME to see which St Albans based three piece who only play instruments made of sand and chutney were going to set the world of etched 7"s on fire this week, birdbath are a bit of a treat. Recorded on what sounds like moving walkway around the museum of forgotten DIY math rock, each track is a little insight into why pretty much every single of one of these bands sank like a shandy barrell, and trust me, it's a lot of fun. Track three, 'Diet Kruger', sounds like a blathered cross between Seafood and Billy Mahonie, and if that doesn't whet your appetite for more, then you haven't heard anything yet.
Birdbath formed in the years between 'Dirty' and 'Messenger in the Camp', and appear to have disbanded, reformed, restarted, resigned, gone on an extended hiatus, and decided to give it another go so many times, you'd be within reasonto expect them to have progressed beyond sounding like 14 year olds who all sound like they wanted to be drummers but settled for the other parts instead. Nah. Some of the snaking basslines are evidently played by people with meat on their bones, and the knowledge they discovered Shellac before you did, mind. Every track is like this; the token cello wafting out from between the waves of feedback, the stop-start-stop beloved by Prolapse and infinitely forgettable one-rock-ponies like The Oedipus, the vocals that sound like Frank Carter trying to startle a snake, so beautifully, noticeably recorded in a bedroom, basement or garage. It's a wonderful nostalgia trip yes, but obviously unless any of the band referenced in this review mean anything above than jack shit, or 'my ex boyfriend wore one of their t shirts' then this is an impressive collection of unlistenable dirge. For those among us who relish the concept of the Peter Pans of mathrock, who probably still make mixtapes with The God Machine, Hovercraft and The Wisdom of Harry on, and who may or may not have referenced 'Dude, Where's My Car?' on the title of this album, then you could do far worse damage to yourself.
12 years in the making, this record…
If I’d kept my first band I ever formed going, then biRdbAth would be my contemporaries. Back in the day, when I was a proper youngster, my first band played self-penned disjointed, experimental-leaning, post-grunge, inspired by all of the days great US noise merchants and bands like Scarce and Urusai Yatsura. Oh, Yatsura, how I miss them.
These guys are still doing just that, with the addition of a little rudimentary math-rock timing and a lot of ‘widdling’. No, I don’t mean they’re a bunch of kids that have retro, early ‘90s influences on their liner notes and knocked off ‘Corporate Rock Whores’ t-shirts. They’ve not ‘rediscovered’ alternative/post rock from listening to McLusky or worked backwards from Mogwai’s Mr Beast: I mean that they actually formed in 1996, and have been making music together on and off, well under the radar for the past 12 years.
They’ve also enjoyed the kind of media exposure and live concert opportunities that my band did, having mostly played youth clubs and flat-bed trailers around Taunton and Bridgewater, and remaining largely undiscovered for their entire band career. God bless them. I hope they do well.
This record is on the slightly ‘fuzzy’, muffled side – I’m all about lo-fi and analogue production, but here the ‘Bath have just had to settle for poor production, which is a shame because it really does detract from the auditory experience: riffs that may have otherwise blown my socks off, feel like they’ve first been strained through a thick, opaque pair of old lady’s tights before limply flopping out of my woofers and splatting on the carpet beneath. Again, I’m reminded of my first recording. biRdBAth have got 12 years under their belts though, so time is paramount. I’d like to see them practicing twice a week and then getting a record produced by a local talent on the underground circuit. Back in the days of nu-metal, it was Dave Chang that one turned to, but for biRdbAth, I think a little investment in a trip to see Steve Albini (who’s very reasonably priced) might be on the cards if the lads mean business. Keep on… truckin’.
By: J Capeling
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bIRdbATH – AND THEN www.myspace.com/birdbath bIRdbATH are from Bristol, well known as an underground creative hotbed, being the home of Portishead, Massive Attack, and more recently Trumans Water and this lot. Fresh from a recent airing on Last FM, bIRdbATH are out and about with a new album ...’and Then’ available from their MySpace and Ingue Records. Right from the opening track ‘Silence is the new Heavy Metal’, their quirky, jerky brand of uncompromising indie-art rock wriggles and slithers into life. Heavy on doomy basslines and glittering off-tune guitars bIRdbATH play to challenge No radio friendly, off-the-peg indie anthems here, and that’s good news. Instead the nine tracks slash and slide through countless meandering twists and turns with Ian Curtis-esque vocals and choruses kept in very short supply. Needs patience this one, but several listens will be rewarded handsomely.
Birdbath - And Then LP
The second album from Bristol 4 piece Birdbath, And Then, is a product having emerged from a turbulent history. Having disbanded and reformed three times, the art-rockers are familiar with the strains of bandom. However, around the time of their third resurfacing in 2006, they played a gig at Bristol Carling Academy that saw EMI expressing an interest: But only if they got an image and a Marilyn Manson type front-man. Like any band with a slither of conscience, they chuckled heartily and declined.Despite having laughed in the face of EMI, Birdbath have nothing on this release to grin about. Most, if not all the songs are bland and two dimensional. But give them their due, the rickety production quality doesn't offer them any favours.
Here and there, beneath the ice-sheet of monotonous art-rock, there are flickers of melody and inspired craftsmanship. At times there is evidence that Birdbath have found their groove, building throbbing bass lines and angular riffs into something potentially impressive.
'Diet Kruger' is dark and brooding, echoing the menace of Slint. But any hint of colour or evolution is stultified by their penchant for repetitive, mechanical riffs. 'Just rice' is perhaps the prettiest track on the album. A sweetly chiming guitar phrase sings out over a pulsating bass riff, which builds into a rousing finale.
Fans of Lo-Fi and Post-rock bands like Mogwai, Shellac and Sonic Youth will find lots of quirky, DIY sounds on here to appreciate; and to be fair, they appear to be a band who do not take things too seriously- you only need to look at their song titles to see that! But the incessant slow tempos and grinding, slightly slapdash approach to recording makes for a yawn inducing listen.Written By: Jamie S (50 - ?) View The Mag Team
Despite the hideous sub GCSE cover art '...and then' proves to be a satisfying post-grunge wig-out - basically a prolonged basement thrash-about, divided into nine exploratory song-length segments and given titles like 'nearly fact; almost inevitable' and 'sorry?..hello?..can you hear me?..' Time signatures are unpredictable, fucked about with in a way I'd liken to math-rock were in not frequently so frickin' heavy. The guitar work powers from the swampy stop/start QOTSA thrash of opener 'silence is the new heavy metal' via the glorious Mogwai-do-Ride swell of 'ich komme' to the insistent Pixiesy chug and whine of final track 'how to make a shitload of money using guns'. Hard to tell if the distant , lo-fi sound is product of cheap recording kit or a deliberate scuzz-chic aesthetic, but no matter- if supertight, slow build guitarscapes are your thing, dip a wing in bIRDdbATH.(Mike White)