Birch Book — Vol. II: Fortune & Folly
(Helmet Room Recordings no#, 2006, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01Birch Book is in reality singer/songwriter/guitarist Michael B'eirth (also known as B'ee), a rising star in the acid-folk and psych-folk scene. Fortune & Folly breaks down into two halves, the first addressing the fickle nature of fate and the second investigating life's journeys, both topics forever confronting the wandering minstrel, which B'ee sees himself as in a modern context. There's a sense of authenticity to his songwriting and delivery that evokes giants of the elder days including Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. The cover art and B'ee's presentation as the wandering troubadour take the listener further back to medieval times, which are subtly invoked in songs such as "Zephyr through Willows" and "The Carnival Is Empty." The instrumental "Diaspora" and the opener "Birch Sap" even dip into psychedelic realms via ghostly guitar drones and ethereal, wordless chants, which work their way on a smaller scale into other songs like "The Trip Goes On." Otherwise we're in pure acoustic folk territory and it's easy to picture B'ee huddled over an acoustic guitar, perched on a stool and leaning his face toward a microphone in a small bookstore somewhere in rural Vermont, spinning out his songs to a gathering of tea sipping folkies. With songs this "wooden" it's not surprising when his voice slips into a warm country twang, though otherwise his soft and gentle singing rarely rises above hushed recitation. This is an impressive and enjoyable cycle of songs, as long as one can stomach the occasional psych flavoring.
Related artist(s): Birch Book
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more