Birds Of Passage

Without The World

Written by: PP on 27/04/2011 19:12:54

So we're back from Groezrock, and I'll start plowing through my colossal pile of promo copies with a record that's very much the polar opposite of the musical offering at the Belgian festival last weekend. Alicia Merz is a name hiding behind a project known as Birds Of Passage, an attempt of exploring just how much variety can be found behind the band's description: Lo-fi minimalistic shoegaze / experimental pop with drone influences. Sounds weird? You're not alone in thinking so.

"Without The World" is said to be a product of Alicia's influences. Instead of listing some typically ambient post-rock bands, she claims her "memories, breathless-inspiring cold winds, the smell and atmosphere of a spring day, smoking cigarettes, sunshine, and shadows" as the ideas that resulted in her writing this record. As you might imagine, to project such an unconventional set of influences in sonic terms requires a soundscape which almost entirely consists of ambiance. That is also the base of this album, the platform that Alicia uses to basically share her own thoughts and what goes on within her mind. So you can expect extreme minimalism to the point that you're sometimes wondering whether she just sat down on some quiet beachfront and recorded the winds and the waves hitting the shoreline.

Most of this is certainly achieved through an (eerie) effects-board of some sort, which forms about 90% of everything "Without The World" has to offer musically. Occasionally, other instruments do make it into the mix, however, such as a simple acoustic guitar on "Fantastic Frown", which has been pushed to the background to echo around the soundscape. Elsewhere, you'll find surprisingly drone-inspired bass lines slowly being plucked to the dragging tempo of the whole album, and of course Alicia's ghostly, whisperous vocals which are the key focal point of the record. While she's certainly capable of some beautiful vocal arrangements, the truth is that "Without The World" overall is just so niché that I find it difficult to imagine just who would put this record on for any other reason than for some background ambiance at some late night romantic dinner. Because for active listening, it is definitely not suitable, unless you plan on falling asleep.

5

Download: Scarlet Monkeys
For the fans of: Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Our Ceasing Voice, Kom, RQTN
Listen: Myspace

Release date 25.03.2011
Denovali Records

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