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.
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
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more