Bird Show

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Ben Vida: Mlps (2000), 5/10
Bird Show: Green Inferno (2005), 7/10
Bird Show: Lightning Ghost (2006), 6.5/10

Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist Ben Vida played with Town & Country, Pillow, Terminal 4, Central Falls, Everyoned. Few people were more active in the post-rock scene at the turn of the century.

Vida debuted solo with Mlps (Boxmedia, 2000), an album of solo acoustic guitar in the vein of John Fahey. The home recording Green Inferno (Kranky, 2005), under the moniker Bird Show, was, basically, a collaboration with Liz Payne that mixed Western and Eastern acoustic instruments, ethnic field recordings and found sounds. Perhaps the best enunciation of Bird Show's program is the two-part Always Never Sleep, that runs the gamut from concrete collage to slow minimalist pattern on keyboards to decaying funereal drone. The other lengthy piece, the closing ninth track, is a busy minimalist gamelan-like concerto. The other (shorter) pieces are explorations of sound that rarely (All Afternoon Part 2, another minimalist repetition) build up enough emotion to stand on their own.

Bird Show's second album, Lightning Ghost (Kranky, 2006), collected another set of Ben Vida's lo-fi home recordings. This time the overall feeling was more surreal and grotesque, lending the proceedings a quality that straddled several avantgarde schools, from minimalism to expressionism. A strong dadaistic underpinning obliterates meaning in the oneiric abstract electronic poems First Pasth Through and Lightning Ghost. Elsewhere, a hyper-psychedelic quality permeates the music: the litany of Beautiful Spring, submerged by a chaos of percussion and guitar noise, or Pilz, that sounds like an exoteric version of the Grateful Dead's acid jams, or Greet the Morning, the way psychedelic folk should sound if it weren't just a fad. On the Beach and Field On Water toy with Terry Riley's In C and similar minimalist symphonies. All the tracks exude a sense of mystery and magic. And the arcane element is particularly uncontrolled in the tribal ethnic nightmares of Seeds and Sleepers Kieep Sleeping. There isn't much to anchor Vida's music to a concept, but the sheer wealth of ideas is enough to justify nine albums, not just nine songs.

Ben Vida, Keith Fullerton Whitman and Greg Davis collaborated on Esstends-Esstends-Esstends (Pan, 2012).

Ben Vida's Extraction (2013) involved visual artist Meredyth Sparks and writer Anthony Elms. Collaborations with jazz guitarist Greg Davis yielded Ben Vida and Greg Davis (2010) and Working Models (Los Discos Enfantasmes, 2013).

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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