Saturday, November 19, 2011

BIRD "Phantoms" EP

Witches, phantoms, ancient roots, lunar tides – there’s plenty here to justify a Halloween release. But I get the distinct impression that the Liverpool-based five-piece - Adele Emmas, Mick Dolan, Keith Thompson, Ste Parratt and Alexis Samata - are spooky all year round, not just seasonally so.

The stand-out track from this debut release by Bird is the title one. An eerie backdrop of nodding sombre drums and plucked acoustic guitar usher in soaring ghostly vocals, spectral choir and sinister violin – a thoroughly spine-tingling gothic take on alt-folk. ‘Hey Hey Moonshine’ has a woozy feel - but is about reflected moonlight rather than illegal stills – yet in tone and content it maintains the supernatural feel of the opener topped off with some intensely anguished violin squeal. Third track ‘Tides’ is a more sombre rumination, occasionally a little too somnambulant of pace but enlivened by some glacial and wordless Elisabeth Fraser yodelling. ‘The Witch Hunter’ delivers Edgar Allen Poe in song: thunderstorm crashes and falling rain opening before lurching through rolling drums, blood-curdling yodels from Adele Emmas, a soulless children’s voices and then sweeping and ominous strings.

This is evocative, mature if a little earnest gothic chamber-folk music that wins hands down in the atmosphere stakes. Some songs on the EP still show a band spreading its song-writing wings (ouch) but in the fully-fledged spookiness of ‘Phantoms’ they soar high.

 Hey Hey Moonshine by Birdofficial

Bird Phantoms [BUY or BUY]

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