Title: Birds With The Blackest Hearts
Release Date: 03 May 2014
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Self Release / BandCamp / Jamendo
So, I haven’t been listening to Brokenkites for all that long. It appears that I acquired a lot of his work last year, in late September. But it didn’t take me long to realize that he was an artist that I had a particular liking for: old school synthesizer music (not Berlin School old, though) that is well produced, conceived and very enjoyable to listen to. Now it’s time to find out if birds with blackest hearts fly Brokenkites.
Birds With Blackest Hearts Fly Brokenkites
Sometimes the title of a release is a real enigma for me. This release is one of them. Normally I expect a release’s title to be a frame for the release itself. And when I look at track titles, I think I am going to have an understanding of some kind of relationship between the release titles and the tracks. Not so with this release, many of the track titles don’t seem to be relevant to the release title.
But that isn’t a real concern. I know in many cases, the title of a release might be a phrase that the artist likes, or a reference to some other work, or even just an impressionistic title that seems to fit the release. And, from what I can tell, this is an impressionistic title. (I am going to feel really silly if there is some reference here that I am completely missing.)
The title does fit the release on this level. The songs on this album, a whopping fourteen in total, have all the hallmarks of a Brokenkites release: darkness, a spacey quality, old school analog textures, drum tracks that either underscore the synth sweeps, or drive the track forward into the beyond.
This work is a far cry from the first releases by Brokenkites. Over the last seven years, he has matured in terms of arrangement, composition and production. In fact, I would say this release is even better than last years Deplorable Words. A track like ‘Aether I’ which appears on both releases, seems to be better produced / mixed on Birds With Blackest Hearts. (But, that could just be a difference in the encodings of the track I have. One is a flac file, the other is an ogg — and there is most definitely a sound quality difference.)
This also brings up another subject that I find interesting. Brokenkites appears to (possibly unwittingly) taken a page from Frank Zappa’s theories. Zappa believed that using songs in different contexts was no different from producing a different arrangement of a song. It wasn’t unusual to find a song on several different releases from him, and they took on a different meaning given the context of the songs that came before and after. In a way this was kind of “macro arranging” or re-contextualizing a song. Brokenkites does in several of his releases, so I don’t believe it to be a coincidence, but rather a planned carefully.
Brokenkites describes himself as writing “…thematic electronic soundtracks for the movie that you’re living. It’s music for time travelers, space persons, and rogue secret agents.” This is a pretty apt description. His work is cinematic, engaging and has a dark and spacey element to it. This latest release is definitely his best to date. The production values have improved substantially over the years. His composition and arrangements have taken tremendous leaps. I can definitely recommend this music for anyone that loves old school synthesizer music (like Vangelis and Tangerine Dream), but wants to hear a more modern interpretation of that style.