These Massachusetts based visionaries have created a compelling and expansive sound that is sure to broaden their fanbase. Their interesting past and present day gigs (record producer, session musician, public broadcasting Internet director, COO of a multi-national tea import/export company) further adds to their intrigue. Quite a heady resume for a band, no? But indeed, this ensemble has crafted a serious, ponderous and lush piece of work that will make you stop in your tracks and pay very careful attention. Add to the impressiveness surrounding the band that A Slight Departure was engineered by the very wonderful and talented David Minehan (he of the mighty and legendary Neighborhoods, one of my favorite bands of yore and a joy to have worked with in my other life at record labels). While this album was initially released last year, it has now been given a 5.1 surround sound remix/reissue along with a Blu-ray disc of the corresponding videos and mni-documentary describing each song. Alan Williams, who is the mastermind of Birdsong At Morning saw this album as a complete experience and he achieved his vision with this edition.
Of the songs – cinematic quality sound aside – if you combined all the best elements of pop over the decades – including the likes of arranging in the styles of Burt Bacharach, Scott Walker, Jim Webb, etc. – but keeping a definitive “rock” edge, that would possibly make as accurate a description as one could muster. Orchestral sounds enhance the tasteful guitar/bass/drums/keyboard foundations and add to the dramatic nature of the music – “Devil’s Stomping Ground” is a perfect example of the melding of these styles; “Murderous Friend” is one of the standouts with its dynamics balancing between acoustic guitar and the ensemble’s build up of tension; “Midnight Vespers” remains gentle and celestial and “Down In The Hole” is simple, effective and (perhaps) the album’s triumph for its feel and power.
Now that this collection of songs has been given a newer lease on life, it truly needs to be (re)visited and embraced. When you have music of this nature and quality, it is criminal for it to be overlooked. So do yourself a musical and (dare I say) an intellectual favor and check out Birdsong At Morning – A Slight Departure is a total revelation.
A Slight Departure 5.1 remix edition will be released on Friday, August 26th, 2016