Grasscut — Everyone Was a Bird
(Lo Recordings, 2015, CD/LP/DL)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2015-08-28
Grasscut (Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair) released their third album on May 18, 2015. The album title, Everyone Was a Bird is comes from the Siegfried Sassoon poem Everyone Sang. The poem concerns a moment of release in the WWI trenches when everyone burst into song.
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.
Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
The eight songs on this album try to capture this same emotion from the landlocked opening song “Islander” to the soaring closer “Red Kite.” Andrew and Marcus are joined by Aram Zarikian (drums), Emma Smith and Vince Sipprell (violin and viola), Elisabeth Nygård (vocals), Adrian Crowley (vocals), Seamus Fogarty (vocals), and renowned ECM reed player John Surman. Andrew’s vocals hint at Tim Bowness and some of the songs draw comparisons to no-man’s “Days in the Trees.” There is also another connection between these musicians, as Grasscut remixed Tim Bowness’ “Smiler at 52” on the bonus disc for last year’s Abandoned Dancehall Dreams. Everyone Was a Bird is a bit uneven. The strings and drums keep the music moving forward, but is not until the third song, “Curlews,” that the music grabbed my interest. “Curlews” also happens to be their first single from the album. This is a beautiful song that opens with sounds of wind, birds, and dripping water that are rapidly overcome by piano and viola that soar and dart. Overall, this is a contemplative album with some emotive and evocative songs. “Snowdon” features Elisabeth’s slow and drifting vocals, much like snowfall and it ends with Surman’s tasteful reed solo. The closing song, “Red Kite,” another bird reference, features pseudo-Mellotron, piano, vocals, and soaring violin solos. Plus there are references to the Sassoon’s poem. An interesting and relaxing album.
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more