Wednesday, November 14, 2007

M-Birds gather in the twilight

Mr Olivetti had a listen to our debut and here are his impressions:

The first Ice bird Spiral recorded outing finds a myriad of drones, tones, scrapes, skronks, voices real or imagined, drums n brushes, guitars and hoop-la being sent through the Wessex ether finally converging on this disc. Two extraordinary sound suites which find familiar aural landscape left behind and new territory discovered, uncovered / overturned, beneath the waves and high in the sky. It takes your imagination by the hand, sets it free and watches it scarper.

Suite one is perhaps the story of a man on the brink of madness, we discover through a series of distorted digital flashbacks and radio static that his life is the perfect disaster, leaving him alone, desperate. His attempts to form a surrogate family by abduction with the aid of a child-seducing converted ice-cream van lead him to the stormy and deserted coast.

We learn that at some previous point on an illicit diving expedition searching for dolphins and rays, he had stumbled across the abandoned Icebird submarine, a plangent siren song drawing him toward this perfect lair. Once ensconced with his family, our sad captor begins the slow spiral into madness; the children are left and in desperation learn to communicate with the sharks and snapping turtles, which in kind transmit the distress through the water to be picked up by the search vessels passing overhead, their sonar seeking vainly.

As the signals are received, divers start to enter the water. Are the distorted human voices somehow carried through the hull to the rescuers, or are the sharks and turtles capable of more than we realise? The sub is uncovered and under violent attack from drills and explosives the hull is breached, while the captor appears to crack under the magnitude of his folly. Is this the end? Is it reality? What is this placid fishing vessel bobbing just off the coast, monotonous foghorn sounding innocently? Are the sides being beaten by tiny fists, as the sonar / radar signals jam and the sea begins to roil. A motor starts. Is it the sub, the trawler or are the chains and disembodied voices some further menace? Are the children being slowly poisoned? Is the troubled soul at the centre of all this begging for forgiveness, or betraying further sins? The menacing sounds leave the water troubled, events inconclusive, minds ruffled.

Forsaking the density and oppression of the seas, the second suite of tracks are light and expansive. This story is of the M-bird, cast adrift through his desire to communicate with humans. We hear him circle the school, metal wings vibrating, trying to disrupt the flow of learning in his voracious desire to know, even though it leaves him an outcast. The words of the children though are like barbs and spikes, keeping him at bay. We hear juvenile words spoken, the M-bird pouncing and ravaging them. Some children try to befriend him, come outside to try and teach him, but the words are like ashes or acid in his mouth. It’s like torture for him, as we hear his brethren circling above, pouring down a mixture of pity and derision, their movements in comparison a beautiful wavelike rhythm, showing up his clumsiness.

Has he forgotten his roots through this obsession? M-birds communicate by supersonic travel, by the song of the air streaming from their wingtips, as they dip, turn and tumble, speed and direction generating this most essential & expressive language. Rather like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, M-bird finally finds his place in the scheme of things and as he regurgitates / expels what earthbound language he has amassed, he soars away replete, the wingtip language finally all he needs.

And just to give us a little something extra, these two works are separated by the Turkish Song. Imagine some West African kids, using tribal instruments to cover a Wire song. Is this a taster of a whole other Icebird direction? Let them keep us guessing.

By Mr Olivetti

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