Bird People: Constellations


Was Ist Das? Cassette

Graceful and cosmic devotions from Ulrich Ross’ Bird People, this time performing as a trio with Roy Cuthbertson III and Lucas Henao Serna, to lay down some truly righteous acoustic drone ragas. If it weren’t for the star-gazing title I’d be convinced that the five tracks here were hymns to the morning sun and the renewal every day brings, a beatific flipside to Coil’s musick to play in the dark, if you like. But there’s still something optimistic in these long, layered tones that are right for contemplating the eternal heaviness of infinity, a million tiny suns burning in the firmament, some already dead by the time their light reaches us and others whose galactic rays are yet to traverse the folds of dark matter and hit our retinas.

‘Blissed out’ is the phrase the release notes use to describe these recordings, and there’s no arguing with that. This is a  tape that is the very embodiment of blissed-out-ness, harnessing a ethnomusicologist’s store cupboard worth of instruments – shruti box, mountain dulcimer, singing bowls – as well as the more familiar lap steel, accordion and organ to craft these slow burners that harness the deep concentrations of Indian classical music with the trip-folk explorations of the Incredible String Band, in order to travel a path that motions towards the early vibrations of United Bible Studies, as well as the more abstract end of Dead Rat Orchestra, while keeping its own counsel and treading its own individual road.

The fact that the tape’s five tracks (three on side A, two on the flipside) kind of merge into a single transcendental hymnal shouldn’t be taken as any kind of criticism of its wide-eyed displacement. In fact, it’s downright marvellous, with the trio’s smooth, endless drones bearing only the slightest signs of undulation, a gradual vibration that chimes with the background hum of the universe. But in gazing outward we also travel inward, those shruti and organ moans matching the pulsing of blood in our veins, the slow inhalation and exhalation of breath during meditation. Becoming one with the universe? Well, maybe that’s a bit much to ask, but spending time zoning into the free raga vibes of this cassette certainly takes you somewhere. Neck a stress pill? No need, sister. Everything you need is right here.






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