From July 24 - 30, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, featuring founding member Roger Miller (of Mission of Burma), will be playing five East Coast shows in support of the recent 2-CD release Dawn of the Cycads on Cuneiform Records. This package contains their complete recordings plus unreleased material for the Boston-based Ace of Hearts Records (Mission of Burma, Lyres, etc). The original line, with current Birdsongs guitarist Michael Bierylo filling in for Martin Swope, will perform music exclusively from their new retrospective and will play on vintage equipment.
Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic began in 1980 as a side project by half of Boston's famed rock band, Mission Of Burma: Roger Miller and Martin Swope. Miller and Swope joined forces with Rick Scott and Erik Lindgren. Perhaps because of their tie to the ever-popular Burma or perhaps because of their sheer excellence Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic earned international recognition for their innovative sound. The New York Times called them the world's hardest rocking chamber music quartet." Their unlikely mix of rock, punk, classical, minimalism, and free-form sound appealed to a broad range of musical tastes.
As Roger remembers in the liner notes, If I had to say what I thought was most unique about the band, it was that we actually played rock clubs and basically pulled off this rather unorthodox thing. Well sure, we pissed off some rockers ("Just look at 'em up there, shuffling their papers!"), but that wasn't really our concern. If this odd quartet wasn't about as different as you could get and still play those venues, well at least we put up a pretty good fight." Rick Scott comments, We were always the square peg in a world of round holes. Our instruments weren't bass, guitar, and drums, but guitar, three keyboards, and drum machine (with turntable, water can, washboard, and abbreviated clarinet thrown in for good measure!). We played in rock clubs, but read from sheet music. We shared the stage with three-chord rockers, but played music from Brian Eno and Igor Stravinsky, and covered the theme from 'Rocky and Bullwinkle'. It boggles the mind how we got away with it."
In the mid-80's Birdsongs toured extensively throughout the United States at venues including The Kitchen and Danceteria in NYC, the Orpheum and the Boston Shakespeare Theatre in Boston, Northwestern University, the 40 Watt Club in Athens GA, and shared stages with Echo & The Bunnymen, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Einsturzende Neubauten, Skeleton Crew (Fred Frith & Tom Cora), The Fall, Throwing Muses, Ran Blake, They Might Be Giants, and Psychic TV. In 1987, Roger Miller left the group to concentrate on solo projects and was replaced by saxophonist Ken Field. In 1992, guitarist Michael Bierylo replaced Martin Swope, who moved to Hawaii. Since then the ensemble has recorded 9 CDs for the Cuneiform, NEARfest, and Pel label and has collaborated with NPR correspondent/Duplex Planet editor David Greenberger on 1001 Real Apes and bass baritone Oral Moses on Extreme Spirituals.
For the first time ever, this 2-CD retrospective contains all of the band's 3 recordings for Ace of Hearts (Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Magnetic Flip and Beat of the Mesozoic) and are reissued in their entirety and in the order in which they were originally heard when they were first issued. In the the words of Erik Lindgren, the remastering done here, sonically makes their Sonic Geology [1988 Rykodisc collection] package irrelevant." This new retrospective comes with a 20-page booklet of notes and photos and there is a huge wealth of totally cool CDRom material - 175 photos, art files, set-lists, dioramas, letters, documents and more. Additionally, there are two studio tracks and seven live tracks, none of which have ever been heard before, for over 45' of bonus material.
Birdsongs' schedule of upcoming performances:
Thursday, July 23 Providence RI AS-220
Friday, July 24 New York City Mercury Lounge
Saturday, July 25 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie
Sunday, July 26 Baltimore MD Talking Head Club
Thursday, July 30 Somerville, MA Johnny D's
For more information contact All About Jazz.