StoneBirds Premiere “Animals”; New LP Time out Oct. 20

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French trio StoneBirds will release their second long-player, Time, on Oct. 20, and like the title of the record itself, the output therein is evocative and open to interpretation. What about “time” are we discussing? How it’s spent? How it’s already gone? How it’s not here yet? The subject is pretty vast, and as they engage it in the heavy post-rock textures of their centerpiece “Only Time” — among the final lyrics is the line, “There’s no hope in time” — the message could seem to be pretty bleak. Fair enough, but that doesn’t at all stop the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Fañch, bassist/backing vocalist Sylvain and drummer Antoine from exploring 55 minutes’ worth of progressive heavygaze fluidity across their mostly extended tracks. Bookended by intro “I” (3:12) and the crushing Jesu-style outro “II” (5:32), Time builds on the depth conjured for StoneBirds‘ 2015 Pink Tank Records debut, Into the Fog… and the Filthy Air (review here), brandishing Vangelis-via-Cult of Luna atmospherics on the 11-minute “Shutter Pt. I & II” and seeming to level an accusation with every tonally-dense churn and shout of the penultimate “Animals,” departing the earlier melodies of “Sacrifice” and the patient swelling and receding of “Blackened Sky” in order to take a more direct, nodding approach leading into the further crush and parting ambience of “II.”

Like many releases of its kind, Time takes a somewhat heady approach to its stated theme, and one finds a core of critique and cynicism (well enough earned) in the environmentalist-minded samples that pervade the early going of “Shutter Pt. I & II,” but whether one wants to engage StoneBirds on this level and discover what they actually have to say about these issues and about time itself or one simply wants to get lost in the tonal wash and alternating shoegaze-melodies and shouts, volume consumption and post-psychedelic meditations of “Sacrifice,” “Blackened Sky” or even “Only Time” itself will ultimately be up to the individual listener. For what it’s worth, repeat listens and taking StoneBirds‘ various turns and shifts on in a more active manner yields more satisfying results, as it almost invariably would. While more cerebral in the spirit of Rosetta, The Atlas Moth and any number of other post-metallic acolytes than the likes of Neurosis, there’s an underlying attention to detail that comes to fruition for example in the post-midpoint bassline of “Only Time” or in the guitar lead and additional vocal layering at the apex of “Animals” before the track stretches itself into a kind of subdued melancholy to end out, and the nuance goes a long way in distinguishing StoneBirds from those with similar stylistic purposes or intent. That doesn’t necessarily make Time revolutionary at its core, but as a record that by and large eschews traditionalist structures, it does give the audience something to grasp onto and justify that further digging that ultimately results in a more switched-on experience of the record as a whole.

And make no mistake, Time is meant to be taken as an entire work. While its 55-minute runtime borders on unmanageable, the immersive nature of StoneBirds‘ sound and the movement they enact between darker and lighter atmospheres, claustrophobic riffing and open-feeling ambience comes through as correspondingly broad to the offering’s stated theme. Bits, pieces and individual moments provide standout impressions, but there’s an arc to the proceedings that each song feeds into, beginning with the unfolding of “I” into “Sacrifice” and continuing until “Animals” gives way to “II” at the end. Between and within these songs, StoneBirds hone a spacious dynamic and embrace a creative breadth that all the more makes Time worth the investment.

On the player below, you’ll find the premiere of “Animals,” followed by some comment from Fañch on the ideas behind the song and how they play into the rest of the material. Time is out Oct. 20.

Please enjoy:

Fañch on “Animals”:

“Animals” is the rawest track on the album, and maybe the most primitive we’ve done with Stonebirds in a while. It’s also the only one with a traditional verse/chorus structure. “Animals” is the conclusion of stories about our relation to “subjective time,” life and death. It had to be tense and nervous to close the chapter. The lyrics deal with our hopelessness to create Time, and how mankind always wants to distort or break it. In a more general way, it’s a reflection on how we try to take the power on something that seems concrete to us, but is nothing more than a idea, a piece of our soul that we will carry until an hypothetical end. I hope you will enjoy this new song as much as we took pleasure to write and record it.

StoneBirds is:
Fañch : guitare/chant
Sylvain : basse/choeurs
Antoine : batterie
Alx : son

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