(Speaker Footage, 2015)
New Danish label Speaker Footage (sister label to the excellent Phinery) has just released their inaugural batch, and it includes Birdy Earns’ Structure Studies, currently pinging around my head in all the best ways, like stainless steel ball bearings let loose in the Large Hadron Collider, but only if CERN had lined the entire 27-kilometer particle accelerator with synth patch triggers instead of superconducting magnets. Whaaaaaat? Yeah, you heard me. Let that concept sink in for a minute. (Then watch Particle Fever on Netflix, because it’s really good.)
Birdy Earns is a producer from Berlin, but take all the connotations that conjures in your head and throw them right out the window. This ain’t no dark house or whatever electronic subgenre you think of when you think of the Berlin club scene. (And I don’t think of it much, so somebody – what does the average Berlin producer sound like? Guaranteed it sounds nothing like this.) Earns, or Birdy, or maybe just Birdy Earns always (yeah, I’ll go with that) takes an experimental approach to electronic and IDM, dodging in and out of strange, unusual rhythms, but grounding them with strange, unusual tentpoles. The melodies are at once easy to pin down and complex within the structures of the compositions. The style ranges from early Autechre-type beatwork (“Glockern”) to a more relaxed, even chillwave bent (“Butter”). Within that range exists a remarkable range of moods and textures, all of them worth paying attention to.
It’s hard not to be excited about this range. The tape shifts as it progresses, as the aforementioned “Glockern” along with “Frost,” “Safe,” and “Isolation” bound with kinetic energy, never sitting still, all while leaving vapor trails of synaesthetic melody in their wakes. The rhythms don’t stagnate either, as glitches, hiccups, and counterrhythms are introduced to keep everything playful. “Butter” marks a bit of a turning point, but only in a sense that it’s impossible to tell what’s going to come next. Besides returning to more footwork-friendly material, Birdy Earns stretches himself, building Structure Studies like a LEGO skyscraper with a rainbow palette. “Untitled” is a study in glitchy noise. “Waldner” would have made total sense in the early Tom Tykwer effort Run, Lola, Run. “Mana,” closing the album, is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, washing over the listener with ambient beauty.
It’s all there. All these enticing electronic elements would have baffled a less inventive producer, and Birdy Earns makes them all work, one right after the other. It’s a deft collection, and if this is the kind of stuff Speaker Footage is going to come up with, watch out. You’ll be in for an amazing ride.
RIYL: AFX/Aphex Twin, Monopole, Books on Tape, Oval, Squarepusher