Bird Show Band

Bird Show / Bird Show Band

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Bird Show Band Review

by Jesse Jarnow

The Bird Show Band marks a new evolution in Ben Vida's ongoing Bird Show project, moving from home-assembled sound collages on his first three albums to fully realized, linear arrangements performed by Vida and a Chicago quartet. The process smoothes out Vida's work somewhat, removing the sudden scene shifts that defined the earlier Bird Show discs, made possible by extensive overdubbing and editing, but the adventurousness and inventiveness are undiminished. Vida's Moog Voyager and Jim Baker's ARP 2600 move the songs through a variety of spaces, from churning grooves and breathless exotica melodies ("Quintet Four") to dubbed-out cosmic minimalism ("Quintet Three") reminiscent of Sun Ra's own '70s ARP experiments. Vida's metrics -- outlined by library music-like track names on his last disc ("Mbira, Harp and Voice," "Two Organs and Dumbek") -- now come from the ensemble ("Quintet One," "BSB Synthesizer Solo"). Variations like the latter give the music some space, too. Featuring Tortoise drummers John Herndon and Dan Bitney, as well as Exploding Star Orchestra bassist Josh Abrams, Vida's ensemble is more than suited to the task of making his bizarre compositions breathe and dance, creating a field of play that is both ever-shifting and utterly transporting.

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