Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Birdmachine
Menschenheim


Released 2004 on Unidentified Recordings
Reviewed by Lovernia, 03/02/2005ce


I first came across Birdmachine when one of my favourite Bands (Artwork) split up in November 2003. One of their Singers -Chris Goellnitz- told me about his side-project Birdmachine. They had released one Album at that time: "Crippled Catharsis". He described it as very experimental, beyond common song or melody structures. First I hesitated, but at least I bought it. I had not heard any experimental music for many years, so I had some problems with "Crippled Catharsis", though it is very good. But now they have released their 2nd Album "Menschenheim" (Home of the Humans) and this one is real mind-blowing! Swirling, bubbling, spacy synthie-sounds melting with the dark depths of TG-like Industrial and some pieces of the Residents. A journey through time and space meeting the very edges of human existance. They left behind the restrictions of ordinary music and try to evolve technical possibilities, finding it boring not to discover new methods of creativity with every song.
Birdmachine is an experimental project in the very best definition of the word, trying to be free from any ordinary restrictions, trying to leave behind any influences.

I asked both musicians to give me some explanations of the Album in their own words (I had to translate it from German, so excuse some mistakes...). First some suggestions from Chris Goellnitz:
"I think it reflects with it's surrealistic language and it's incalculable sound elements the facettes of a strange imperfect machinery of human existance, both the obvious and also the only presentiment parts. Dream, seemingly sick things, religion, perfection, yearning, cruelty, aesthetics, perversion, narrowness and phantasy or just eccentric fairy tales are musically painted and put into a speculative, but possible psychic and cosmic relation. Shapeless and unknown things playing a role. The dark tendency for destruction and self-destruction. The corruption and selling of pure things. And -of course- the ironically view on yourself. The power to do unnormal things. Love....
Important to me is, that the possible essence is left freely for interpretation. In the open and free and not in the concrete and obvious lies for me courage, creativity, hope and dream."

And now some reflections on each song from Michael Schaffer, who is responsible for the music and myself:

1.) Es ist der Versuch (It's the try...)
M: Monotony and warmth and the universe brought into a relation to Chris' intellectual negotiations.
L: Minimalistic, but very intense and clear. Nice swirling synthie sound. A mechanical bird whistling funny tunes.

2.) Destiny Black
M: Darkish synthesizers, a bit of no-wave, a bit of 80's Underground and a shovel of dirt at the end.
L: Swirling, atonal and extremely experimental, pending between soft and gloomy. Sounds a bit like TG.

3.) Menschenheim (Home of the Humans)
M: Actual a loose groove song, but I think of a home for old people or a sick-ward, pain dripping into bags, a song about pain and the dignity of the (isolated) human.
L: Slow EBM-like rhythm. Very much orientated on the intense voice. A reflection on the homes we put the old and disabled in.

4.) Kalt (Cold)
L: Dark industrial sound accompanied with Hi-Hats creating an interesting rhythm. "....where the bitches stand in line...."

5.) A fragile tale from the Spacecoast
M: Nearly caricative, theatrical at the beginning and then really filigree and vitreous, getting more and more complex, but staying crystal and light, hanging icicles and crystals, even folklore in appropriate scenes.
L: Starting with a dark piano and some unearthy voices like howling ghosts and then it suddenly turns into a swirling, mind-blowing synthie-sound. Chris tells us a surrealistic poem Salvador Dali would have been proud of, if it was a picture. One of the best songs I've ever been blessed to hear. It's just perfect. This song spreads out it's wings and flys away with you into a wonderful, colourful dreamland.

6.) Kingdom of the Screen
M: Trash, space, Legendary Pink Dots and experimental Hawkwind, presuming, genius and warning, that's how I understand the lyrics.
L: This is what it feels like, living in Germany 2003/2004. Everything's just crawling on the floor.

7.) Sleepy
M: This song was created within a few minutes and is one of our favourites, carried along with a low sound, then increases into a burst of industrial sounds, goods station and so on.... Extremely extended rooms of sound.
L: Very softly and melancholic. "Sleepy" yes, that's what it is.

8.) Layla's Daughter
M: Definitely a Ballad and as far as I understand, a really morbid one, clear grooves, clear metric until the end, not without the experience of increasing changes, added echoing sounds, synthetic and from guitars, many things seem to escalate; at the end consiliatory warmth of the universe.
L: A Free-Jazz piece? I'm not quite sure, but it sounds like that.

9.) In den Rauch (Into the Smoke)
M: Like a radio play, completely orientated on the text, for me in person not related to a fixed (victim) group, but an argument with terms like execution, deportation, genocide on the whole.
L: First I thought:"Wow, this is so depressive and macabre, too macabre even for me, who sometimes likes this kind of stuff." But then, whilst watching a TV-Documentary about Auschwitz-Birkenau, I remembered how I felt when I visited this place as a child.... and I realized what this song really is about. It transports the feelings I had when I visited this concentration camp so very well, it must be scary and depressive!

10.) Kinderschritt (Children's Step)
M: Simple song, comes in rustling and disappears very quickly, a little yearning.
L: It's like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking over the endless ocean, just feeling the wind blowing through your hair and gently whispering this song into your ears. Deep and emotional like Cope's "A Crack in the Clouds".

Total running time: 66:03 min

This Album is currently only available from www.beautifuldisease.com and www.unidentified-recordings.de (you will also find some downloads there)


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