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Birdbrain - I Fly

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Artist: Birdbrain

Album: I Fly

Label: Persian Cardinal

Review date: Sep. 29, 2004

Birdbrain have ties to the late Arthur Russell, but comparisons to Dagmar Krauss are more to the point. Birdbrain is a brass-and-reeds group fronted by Yvette Perez’s vocalizations—often verbal but sometimes not. While she does not specifically conjure the seething strength of Krauss’s finest moments, angst certainly lurks just below every utterance and ululation. The Henry Cow-style arrangements are tasteful but minimal, sometimes even a bit bland, tending toward sameness throughout. They work best when augmented with the sounds of nature, as on “A Dream of Things” or on “Confection of Sound,” where Perez’s multitracked exclamations are heavily reverbed. “I Hear it on the Vine” - just Perez and some keyboards reminiscent of early Stereolab - is a welcome change.

The title track is the EP’s finest moment. A swanky slithery motive on alto sax is supported by a swinging dialogue between tenor and trombone. Perez’s syncopated and accentuated outbursts: “I … fly … high enough … high enough” complement perfectly the bluesy backing, her multitracked voice sporting just a touch of hipper-than-thou ennui. All suddenly ceases, a “bird? ” - sounds like a raven - is heard, followed by organ-like chords from the winds, then a clamorous free-jazz break. The track seems longer than its 2:25, but it’s never dull, a perfect blend of the avant-garde and the accessible. I hope that it's indicative of the group’s future.

By Marc Medwin

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