Label: Bad Omen Records
Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Black Vinyl, (Housed in heavyweight “Tip On” gatefold sleeve), 500 copies
Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Blue Splatter Vinyl, (Housed in heavyweight “Tip On” gatefold sleeve), 500 copies
Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Purple Smoke Vinyl, (Housed in heavyweight “Tip On” gatefold sleeve), 500 copies
Format: CD, Album, Limited Edition, Trifold Digipack
Release Date: 15 July 2022
Birth, are an American Prog-Rock quartet, hailed from San Diego, and formed in 2017, though their band members have all previous band experiences. On their Bandcamp page, they describe their music as “Elegiac mellotron-assisted songcraft, richly melodious abandon, and monumental solo passages thus join forces to deliver a third-eye-cleansing blast of vibrant progressive rock, replete with a grandiose cinematic scope and psychedelic intensity”… So, this makes your curiosity about the band’s sound, even more, arose right? Mine too… But wait, till you read the highly informative press release, your questions will somehow be answered!
The press release reads:
“Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world” .
So wrote Mary Shelley in Frankenstein, arguably the first science fiction tale. A full 204 years later, the quest remains – how best to elucidate our daily lives with some form of inspiration that moves the spirit beyond its earthly shackles?
This is the current realm of Birth, San Diego’s most transcendental new band and purveyors of a form of vibrant and electrifying progressive rock that moves beyond time and space itself. In ‘Born’ their debut for Bad Omen Records, the listener is invited on a magic-eye journey through a Castenadean realm in which colours and sounds warp into kaleidoscopic dimensions. Yet far from the trappings of retro chic and fashion-aligned classicism, these five celestial serenades stake their claim in a different headspace to most other exponents of the form. Certainly, it’s true that many of the audial shapes manifesting themselves here – the exploratory jazz-rock diversions, Mellotron and Hammond-abetted textures, and the rich melancholia of the song-writing – may recall moments from progressive rock’s past, and the listener may be forgiven for losing themselves in a gatefold-sleeved reverie. Nonetheless, this is a band which was thrown into life via the constrictions and temporal shifts of a global pandemic, as well as one which has largely set about chronicling a reality in which the surrounding world appears to be hurrying its own demise.
Birth evolved from Astra, whose two albums for Rise Above Records – 2009’s ‘The Weirding’ and 2012’s ‘The Black Chord’ – had already reinvented classic sonic textures and mind-melds in lucid and intoxicating style. Conor Riley and Brian Ellis nonetheless found themselves seeking out new life and new civilizations. Initially, this led to a collaboration with Psicomagia’s Trevor Mast and Paul Marrone, although later Marrone (while he does play on ‘Born’) was replaced by Thomas DiBenedetto (of Sacri Monte, Joy and Monarch) as sparks began to fly in earnest.
The result has been a debut that combines a questing spirit with a dystopian take on the here and now. Musically, whilst traces can be discerned of the dark and magisterial King Crimson of ‘Red’ herein, as well as the yearning cadences of early Yes and the delirious contortions of Van Der Graaf Generator, a whole host of influences made their presence felt in these mournful cadences, joyful solo passages, and kinetic freakouts, from ‘70s mainstays like Aphrodites Child, Premiata Formeria Marconi and Area to the primitive folk of Robbie Basho and the symphonic soundtrack work of Osanna.
Meanwhile, Reilly sums up the themes of songs like “Descending Us” and “The Long Way Down” as “the deterioration of society, transformation, mortality, and other fun and positive things”, having found artistic solace in post-apocalyptic books like Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ and Octavia Butler’s ‘Parable Of The Sower’ in sculpting a science-fiction-inspired soundworld in which bleak tumult and sky-bound rapture could co-exist. “I’m a scientist by trade and I read a lot of dystopian sci-fi, which I believe is relevant to many of the events that have been occurring lately” notes Conor. “These views feed a dark, spiritual, and mystical relationship that I have with scientific thought”.
More often that not, however, on moments like the heartfelt meditation on impermanence that is “For Yesterday”, as well as “Another Time” which covers a desire to dissociate and escape reality, a fundamental thread running through these songs is a struggle to make sense of and illuminate the trials and travails of the everyday. Whatever the fractious relationship between science and nature, alchemical forces have done their considerable work with ‘Born’, in creating an uplifting album for the ages, 42 minutes in which past, present, and future are blurred; an album haunted by earthly concerns even whilst its sonics aim for the stars…
So, “Born” is Birth’s debut album, it contains 6 songs, 3 on each side of the LP. The opener “Born” shows by the very first second, a huge dive that the band attempts into the glorious days of the early Progressive ‘Vertigo’ years! A great instrumental track where Prog melts with Hard Rock, with an electric guitar sound not only hot but quite melodic too! “Descending Us” is a kind of a balladesque song, deeply drenched into the magical early 70s, the mellotron blends with the heavy guitar creating an epic track where Van Der Graaf Generator jams with Uriah Heep (!!!), it’s so hard to believe that this is not written back in 1971! Side ‘A’ closes with my favorite track, it’s called “For Yesterday”, this is Old-School Progressive Rock, so British-inspired! It starts in a real Proggy dynamite way and it transforms into a classic rock ballad (!!!)… Gentle Giant blends with Catapilla, pinches of Yes, and Pink Floyd (of course) under a trippy and mind-blowing mellotron sound, Excellent! Side ‘B’ opens with “Cosmic Tears”, a Prog-alicious tune, a little dark with lots of variations and multiple guitar solos under a solid proggy beat, a rather cool instrumental! “Another Time” is Heavy Prog, 70s inspired at its best, with lots of rhythm and mood changes, fast-slow, dark-light, heavy-soft, a battle between Organ and Guitar, with no winner! The album comes to an end with “Long Way Down”, a heavier track that steps into the Darkside of the celebrated era – the Prog 70s of course – excellent musicianship, brilliant execution, and the sweet old progressive days of the past are knocking our nowadays doors! Birth delivered a really good album, “Born” is not only a sonic exploration of the past but also a testimony of a magnificent sounding of the Prog 70s period, though it’s so hard to believe that this band hails from the States and not from the “cursed” island on the other side of the ocean… TimeLord Michalis
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Listen/Buy through BIRTH Bandcamp
Get the album through SHINY BEAST Mailorder
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