Released towards the end of last year, this debut album from Liverpool-based, piano-driven progressive trio Exploring Birdsong is one that has been highly awaited by many people, myself included.
I first encountered Exploring Birdsong live at HRH Prog in November 2018 with my esteemed TPA colleague Leo Trimming and Progradar’s very own Martin Hutchinson. Now every festival has that one band who you’ve heard of, they play fairly on, in one of the afternoon sessions and leave you thinking, ‘blimey, how did I miss hearing of these?’
For that last HRH held in a holiday camp in deepest, darkest Wales, Exploring Birdsong were that band, and I was ever so pleased to see this 6 track EP released and was really looking forward to delving deep into it.
It’s an incredibly dramatic and powerful selection of music that flows beautifully into each track, the piano-driven sound is absolutely sublime, and it’s great to see a band put the piano and keyboard at the forefront, as the dynamic ranges and musical tension that it can great provide a perfect counterpoint to the drums and bass. Top it off with the superb vocals of Lynsey Ward and you have an incredibly tight power trio.
I am getting the same vibe from listening to this that I first got from listening to Under the Pink by Tori Amos, it is recognisable as rock within its structure, but it does something totally different, and sends shivers down your spine with its emotional resonance and musical power.
From the way opening instrumental piece Hope, with its striking textured piano and synth sounds, launches brilliantly into the powerful The River, with its intense and complex opening that gives way to more of that sublime piano sound and Lynsey’s crystal clear vocals. The way her vocals counterpart the light and dark within this emotionally charged song is just one of many strengths the band have.
The sound they make is mighty, and in Matt Harrison and Jonny Knight they have one of the most powerful and versatile rhythm sections operating on the scene at the moment. This band are incredibly tight and make the sort of sound that bands with twice their number fail to do, and at the heart of it all, that unique piano sound that helps differentiate them from so many bands currently operating in this genre, whilst the vocal harmonies layered on the choral interlude title track is as dramatic and effecting as anything else on this debut.
With tracks like The Sinking Question, The Baptism and personal favourite, the closing epic of The Downpour, I feel like I am hearing something fresh and new, something that whilst undoubtedly steeped in the history of the progressive scene isn’t beholden to it. Taking what’s gone before but instead of imitating it, uses it as the building blocks to create a work that is fresh, original and true to the spirit of progressing.
Exploring Birdsong, remember that name, and give this a listen, you will not be disappointed.
01. Hope (1:10)
02. The River (4:47)
03. The Sinking Question (3:53)
04. The Thing With Feathers (1:28)
05. The Baptism (5:20)
06. The Downpour (5:06)
Total Time – 21:44
Lynsey Ward- Vocals, Keyboards
Jonny Knight – Bass Guitar, Keyboards
Matt Harrison – Drums, Percussion
Record Label: Long Branch Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 29th November 2019