Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

BandAlternativeAvant-garde

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic's innovative instrumental music, fusing rock, classical, minimalism, punk, and free-form sound, has earned the band wide recognition and audience appeal. The New York Times remarked that Birdsongs "sounds like a party in a Cubist roadhouse."

Biography

Birdsongs began in 1980 as a side project by half of Boston's now legendary Mission of Burma: Roger Miller and Martin Swope. Miller and Swope joined forces with Rick Scott and Erik Lindgren for a recording project. In 1983 the quartet produced the EP, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, and performed live for its release.
With the demise of Mission of Burma at about the same time as the EP's release, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic became a full time band. In 1985 they released the LP Magnetic Flip, and set out on extensive touring to support its release. A year later Miller, Swope, Scott and Lindgren released another EP, Beat of the Mesozoic, and again set out on tour.

In 1987, Miller left the group to concentrate on solo projects. He was replaced first by saxophonist Steve Adams (now with the ROVA Sax Quartet), and then saxophonist Ken Field. Birdsongs' new lineup recorded Faultline, released on Cuneiform. Their second Cuneiform release, Pyroclastics appeared in 1992. Shortly afterwards, guitarist Michael Bierylo replaced Martin Swope, who moved to Hawaii. 1993 marked the release of The Fossil Record, a collection of previously unreleased material from 1980-87 featuring the band's original lineup. In 1995, the band released Dancing On A’A, the first album to feature the current personnel of the group: Bierylo, Field, Lindgren, and Scott.

Petrophonics, released in 2000 as Birdsongs of the Mesozoic celebrated its 20th anniversary, was the band’s 10th album. In the words of long-term colleague C.W.Vrtacek, it marked "a maturation of their compositions and their sense of arrangements… Extensive use of mid and late 20th century classical techniques such as dissonance and texture nudges some of the music away from rock and closer to "new contemporary music". To Vrtacek, it is multifaceted growth: “Think of a rose, not a racecar.” The band performed a number of shows to celebrate Petrophonics’ release, including major clubs and festivals in the US and Europe.

In 2003 the group released The Iridium Controversy. Featuring guest performances and a composition by band co-founder Roger Miller, the CD also features cover art by British artist and designer Roger Dean, world renown for his album covers for Yes, Asia and others. Birdsongs performed at the opening for Dean’s solo show at NYC’s Grant Gallery in spring 2003.

2004 saw the release on NEARfest Records of 2001 Live Birds, a documentation of Birdsongs' live set at NEARfest 2001, an internationally acclaimed festival of progressive music. A Dutch reviewer named it a "barnstorming tour de force", and the Italian publication Ragazzi called it a "magical combination of melodic and abstract harmonies."

Birdsongs has been invited to serve as Artists-in-Residence at Dartmouth College, Mass College of Art, and Emory University. They have played a wide range of venues including Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), the Knitting Factory (NYC), the Honolulu Academy of Arts (HI), the Northeast Art Rock Festival, the Guimarães Art Rock Festival (Portugal), Salvador Dali Museum (FL), and Real Art Ways (Hartford, CT). Several band members have composed music for film and television, including the "Sesame Street" program. The band has collaborated with noted author David Greenberger on "1001 Real Apes" (a project combining Birdsongs’ musical score with humorous & heart-wrenching stories Greenberger collected from aging nursing home residents), and with Atlanta-based vocalist Oral Moses on "Extreme Spirituals", in which Moses' striking bass-baritone voice is paired with innovative arrangements of African American spirituals and hymns. "Extreme Spirituals" was released in September 2006 on Cuneiform Records.

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic's music is "as meditative as it is physical, as rooted in classical structure and jazz improvisation as it is in rock 'n' roll" (Boston Globe). The New York Times remarked that Birdsongs "sounds like a party in a Cubist roadhouse." Billboard called their music a "mesmerizing instrumental venture into the space-age jungle," while the Boston Phoenix calls it "a virtual reality that is both primordial and ultramodern." Perhaps their music can best be described as the soundtrack to a primordial epic that harkens to the future as well as the past.

Discography

- Extreme Spirituals (Cuneiform Rune 241) 2006

- 1001 Real Apes 2006

- 2001 Live Birds 2004

- The Iridium Controversy (Cuneiform Rune 179) 2003

- Petrophonics (Cuneiform Rune 137) 2000

- Dancing On A’A (Cuneiform Rune 69)

- The Fossil Record 1980-’87 (Cuneiform Rune 55)

- Pyroclastics (Cuneiform Rune 35) 1992

- Faultline (Cuneiform Run 19) 1989

- Sonic Geology (Rykodisc RCD 20073) 1988


Cuneiform releases available on iTunes

Set List

90 minute concert set
60 minute concert set
one or two 45 minute concert/club sets

Original material from recorded releases. The group is also currently available to perform Extreme Spirituals with bass-baritone singer Oral Moses.