BIRDS AND BUILDINGS - Bantam To Behemoth

Birds And Buildings - Bantam To Behemoth

9 songs
69:23 minutes
***** *****


When I encountered American prog wizard Dan Britton three years ago with his band Cerebus Effect, I was quite amazed, but not prepared to the improvement that would come with his even more radically progressive band Deluge Grander. To make things more complicated, this apparently hyperactive musician is now back with a third band called Birds And Buildings, but don’t worry, there was this time no room for that much progress. Instead, Britton recruited new members of different musical backgrounds to make for a sound which is still close to Deluge Grander but also incorporates different influences. Drummer Malcolm McDuffie for instance used to play with guitar innovator Mick Barr of Orthrelm fame in Crom-Tech and therefore should bring an apt experience in extreme noise music, although that is only noticeable in his extremely agile drumming. Brian Falkowski definitely has a jazz background with his array of saxophones, flutes and clarinet. The bass part is played by Deluge Grander member Brett d’Anon. Dan Britton plays keyboards and guitars, although he puts much more emphasis on the former: no matter if the delivers fluent piano lines or delves deep into his ancient synth sounds, he’s always the one eventually mostly defining the band’s sound. McDuffie’s precise beats and Falkowski’s horns at times remind of early Van Der Graaf Generator, although the dark Magma influence can’t be denied either.

People often quote Dan Britton’s vocals as sub-par. Granted, he is not a perfect singer, but he seems to know it and distorts most of the time his voice to make it feel like an instrument. Only folk singer Megan Wheatley makes for more harmonic moments on Chronicle Of The Invisible River Of Storm.

Bantam To Behemoth is a concept album of sorts, treating the topics collision, evolution and conflict, something like the history of our planet. The nine songs are grouped into three suites, with the first and the last twenty minutes long, and the middle part consisting of half an hour of exquisite progressive music. I also don’t want to label the band as a retro act, they are far too innovative for that. Of course, the possibly intended murky production make this seem sometimes like an obscure recording from the mid-Seventies, but the three main players combine their different backgrounds just perfectly together this time.

Deluge Grander’s album may have started more bombastically than this one, but lost steam throughout its running time. Bantam To Behemoth manages to keep its impossibly high level throughout, with conflicting keyboard and saxophone lines surfing on complex rhythm patterns. If you even only love progressive rock a little, then there is no way past Birds And Buildings’ debut album, and the good news is that Mr Britton is currently is working already on new albums for Deluge Grander and Birds And Buildings, both of which should be released later this year.

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