A duo consisting of former Acid Mothers Temple vocalist Cotton Casino and Norwegian guitarist Per Gisle Galaen, the Birds’ first studio collaboration is a remarkably diverse yet coherent collection, lushly produced and beautifully performed.
Casino stamps her presence on all but two tracks with her astonishing vocal performance. Her wordless a capella singing on “Green To Me” provides a bewitching opening to the set, soon joined by distant, rumbling guitar. Gradually coalescing around Casino’s freeform vocals, Galaen’s effects are subtle and restrained. Things get a little shaky with “Fama Fama,” a throwaway and rather sickly ditty, but soon get back on track with “In the Name of the River,” in which Casino’s ethereal soprano floats in and out of Galaen’s imposing drones. Galaen also lays down beautifully clear, bell-like guitar throughout the track, adding to its sense of stilled wonderment.
This spell is abruptly broken by the mental mash-up of “Donkeys,” where Galaen ruptures Casino’s girly voice with shrill frequencies and blasts of angular guitar. After a brief vocal interlude, the lengthy “Human Play” is a rare lapse into formula with its feeble and needlessly extended soundscaping. The final track “Fireburner,” however, restores (dis)order with a delirious, frenzied assault from distorted guitar, jolting synth, and demented percussion. It’s a rousing finale to an album whose mind-scrambling psychedelic 3D artwork stands as an accurate representation of the delights contained within.