HEY! Get updates to this and the CD and 7" blogs via Twitter: @VinylUnderbite

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Birch Book - 'Vol 1' (Lune Music)

Birch Book is a side-project of In Gowan Ring and it's just as driven by the personality of Mr. B'eirth. But if you're looking for a vast departure you won't find it - this is an album centered on B'eirth's singing and guitar playing. The difference is that the more psychedelic, traditional and I'd say "medieval"-style sounds of In Gowan Ring are replaced by a rootsy, Americana folk tradition instead. If you like Neil Young's wussier stuff (hey, that's still North America) then you might find a lot to love here. B'eirth's surprisingly direct with his songwriting, and the tunes roll along gently. It has a home-recorded/ProTools feel but there's some nice extra accompaniment in a few places. Viola gives it a nice edge, and the background doubled-vocals are tastefully mixed. A sticker on the package warns of ego-driven, narrative material but that's nothing to be ashamed of. This isn't a place to go for excitement, as you can imagine of someone who would write a song about having coffee in the morning. But if you want excitement, you can go to the the Gowan Ring. I saw them live once and it was a pretty good trip, though one song matched along with 'Shiny Happy People' exactly -- like, you could sing Stipe's lyrics overtop of B'eirth's, which I did, but thankfully in the back of the club where he wouldn't hear me (because I suspected he was a sensitive type, and Birch Book pretty much proved that). Besides 'Coffee Morning' you'll get other tunes with titles like 'Leaf Patches on Sidewalks', 'Warm Wind and Rain', and 'Jerkoff into the Ocean'. Okay, I admit I made up the last one. The closest this comes to the stone circle psychedelia vibe are the opening track and track 12, which are both called 'Birch Bark' -- they are shimmering, delay-affected layers of acoustic notes that fall around the stereo field like dancing raindrops. They're beautiful bookends to a very personal (if slightly unadventurous) album, and I wonder if track 12 is mislabeled as track 13 for some sort of occult reason. This is more NPR than Colin Wilson, but strangely, almost indescribably likeable.

No comments:

Post a Comment