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Bird Show: Green Inferno

By Bret McCabe | Posted 4/13/2005

Ben Vida’s guitar always scratched skin where his Town and Country band mates preferred to leave shadowy footnotes on the minimalist Chicago quartet’s albums, the player who knew minimal didn’t necessarily mean negligible. On his second solo joint (first under the Bird Show name) Vida the multi-instrumentalist lets his delicate touch for making the thoughtful visceral take off toward the outer regions of inner space. Green Inferno is a caravan through far-out sounds (Moroccan, Zimbabwean, Japanese, Pakistani) that never leaves the living room, heading off toward the exotic with an asymptotic impulse to barrel toward destinations it’ll never reach.

In lesser hands such armchair ethnomusicology becomes tiresome dissertation winnowing, an electro-acoustic jam band. Vida contorts every source idea into such a distorted relic of its origin that the sounds mutate, generating pancultural ooze that bubbles out of the speakers. Green Inferno is a creepy found-sound crop circle, abrasive at first listen, pulsing with primitive melodies just below the surface, and vaguely threatening underneath. Mating-cricket rustles and repeating string lines trace a jungle-love vibe in “Landlovers.” A ribbon of voice tones and percussion shake awake the night in “Always/ Never Sleep Part #1.” And by the time you get to closer “All Afternoon Pt. # 2 (Dawn of the Dead)” you feel like you’ve wandered into the too-weird deleted scenes from an Alejandro Jodorowsky flick: disoriented, anxious, cells tightening into instinctual survival mode, and completely unable to tear yourself away from the threatening unknown you’re sure waits just around the bend.

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