Exposé Online banner

Grasscut — Everyone Was a Bird
(Lo Recordings, 2015, CD/LP/DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2015-08-28

Everyone Was a Bird Cover art

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.

Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): John Surman, Grasscut

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Soft Machine - Third – For those not familiar with Soft Machine, this is probably the best place to start; this marks the major turning point in the band's career, a shift from a more song-oriented style, through a phase of...  (1994) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues