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

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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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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Stonebirds Premiere “Burned Flesh” from Into the Fog… and the Filthy Air

Posted in audiObelisk on May 13th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

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Emanating sonic largesse from their home in the west of France, three-piece outfit Stonebirds will make their full-length debut on Pink Tank Records in July with Into the Fog… and the Filthy Air, a five-song/34-minute long-player whose bent almost immediately and throughout its entire course is toward carrying across material with as big a sound as possible. Riffs are huge, vocals shout up from way back in the mix, the bass pushes air underneath a dense wall of fuzz, and the drums crash with gotta-hear-it echo for a maximum sense of space, giving the entire work an added layer of atmospheric intensity to go along with its complex turns and ever-widening sonic breadth. If you had to put a genre to it (and you don’t), you might call it post-stoner for its pervasive ambience, adventurous flourish and open-feeling structures, but what Stonebirds do is still very much rooted in following the riff. It’s just where that riff takes them that makes all the difference.

The album opens with “After the Sin,” the longest song at 8:44 (immediate points) and a track that summarizes a lot of what the entirety of Into the Fog… and the Filthy Air will offer, its rhythmic thrust of considerable force from the moment Antoine‘s drums kick in with Fañch‘s guitar and Sylvain‘s bass, which will soon enough lead the swaying “Angst Lover.” Their builds seem to bleed into each other, but the atmosphere is hypnotic right away as “After the Sin” moves into its progressive-feeling midsection, a slide or ebow lead arriving after five minutes in and somehow presaging a return to the earlier chorus. When it hits, “Angst Lover” is moodier but winds up no less forward-thinking, an airy first half giving way to wah swing, chugging and crushing shouts later on while still holding onto an eerie melodic sensibility that “Into the Fog” develops further in a more laid back setting of squibbly guitars, fuzz bass and ride-cymbal wash. stonebirds into the fog... and the filthy airThe tension comes to a head accompanied by what sounds an awful lot like a theremin and seems to expand outward until it starts to decay, leaving just the drums to hold the progression together until some surprise acapella at the end provides a transition into “Burned Flesh.”

If it’s not clear by now, momentum is a central factor working in Stonebirds‘ favor. Into the Fog… and the Filthy Air is a quick listen, but one of marked sonic depth. A headphone record not for its psychedelic aspects, though I guess it has those if you want to darken your colorful impression of the word, but for the way their audio seems so three-dimensional, it moves through with little time for reflection, and that seems to suit Stonebirds‘ purposes well as they push into “Burned Flesh” from “Into the Fog” and hit on a mid-paced roll with vocal interplay from Fañch and Sylvain that offers probably the nearest step toward post-metal that the band takes amid a deceptively catchy hook. “Burned Flesh” is the shortest song on the album at 5:36, but even with the relatively brief runtime, Stonebirds leave an atmospheric impression in a bridge topped by repetitive builds that pays off in a wash of guitar and a fading final rumble that sets up the quiet introductory stretch of “Perpetual Wasteland,” almost Deftones-esque for its brooding and malevolent melodicism, but holding firm to the underlying tension as it crashes toward Into the Fog… and the Filthy Air‘s last stomp, an epilogue of melodic wash and drum thud finishing cold to end the album.

It’s an impressive debut for what Stonebirds accomplish across its span and the lack of pretense with which they do it, and today I have the pleasure of hosting “Burned Flesh” for streaming ahead of the July 14 Pink Tank vinyl release of Into the Fog… and the Filthy Air. Please find it on the player below, followed by info on the LP release courtesy of the label, and enjoy:

STONEBIRDS trio emerged in 2008 from the desolated landscapes of central Brittany (France) from which they draw inspiration to write crushing and misty songs. After the self-release of a demo CD, a split album with Stangala and a digital Ep, STONEBIRDS is now fully matured and release the “Into the fog… and the filthy air” Lp through Pink Tank Records (Ger). A psychedelic and massive disc recorded in a full-analog studio which wraps the songs in a vintage and raw sound. On stage, STONEBIRDS crushes the audience like a dark fog hammer and riffs to break the spine!

Pink Tank Records 012 STONEBIRDS – INTO THE FOG AND THE FILTHY AIR

– 500 copies total
– 75 copies red/black marbled incl. poster & download code (exclusive Pink Tank edition)
– 25 copies red/black marbled standard edition (wholesale)
– 100 deep grey marbled incl. poster & download code (exclusive band edition)
– 300 copies standard black

RELEASE IS SCHEDULED FOR 14.07.2015

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