Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

Sonic Geology

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A handy 18-track précis of the first three releases by Boston avant-rockers Birdsongs of the Mesozoic (1983's Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, 1984's Magnetic Flip, and 1986's Beat of the Mesozoic), 1988's Sonic Geology is an excellent introduction to the challenging but always accessible music they created. Though de facto leader Erik Lindgren's influences include Stravinsky, Steve Reich, and other giants of modern classical music, comparisons can also be made to Frank Zappa and Raymond Scott: "serious" musicians don't follow up a suite of excerpts from "The Rite of Spring" with an imaginative reworking of the theme from Rocky and Bullwinkle. More importantly, this music quite often flat-out rocks. This may not be surprising considering that both Roger Miller and Martin Swope had been in the great Mission of Burma, but rarely does chamber music swing as aggressively as Miller's "Shiny Golden Snakes." Sonic Geology is not a replacement for the original albums -- each has worthwhile material that didn't made the CD cut -- but two previously unreleased tracks, Miller's "Pulse Piece" and Swope's "The Common Sparrow," will interest fans.

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