Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist Ben Vida played with
Town & Country,
Few people were more active in the post-rock scene at the turn of the century.
Vida debuted solo with Mlps (Boxmedia, 2000), an album of solo acoustic
guitar in the vein of
The home recording Green Inferno (Kranky, 2005), under the
moniker Bird Show, was, basically, a collaboration with Liz
Payne that mixed Western and Eastern acoustic
instruments, ethnic field recordings and found
sounds. Perhaps the best enunciation of Bird Show's
program is the two-part
Always Never Sleep, that runs the gamut from
concrete collage to
slow minimalist pattern on keyboards to decaying
The other lengthy piece, the closing ninth track, is a
busy minimalist gamelan-like concerto.
The other (shorter) pieces are explorations of sound
that rarely (All Afternoon Part 2, another
minimalist repetition) build up enough emotion to
stand on their own.
Bird Show's second album, Lightning Ghost (Kranky, 2006), collected
another set of Ben Vida's lo-fi home recordings. This time the overall
feeling was more surreal and grotesque, lending the proceedings a quality
that straddled several avantgarde schools, from minimalism to expressionism.
A strong dadaistic underpinning obliterates meaning in the
oneiric abstract electronic poems First Pasth Through and
Elsewhere, a hyper-psychedelic quality permeates the music:
the litany of Beautiful Spring, submerged by a chaos of percussion and guitar noise,
or Pilz, that sounds like an exoteric version of the Grateful Dead's acid jams,
or Greet the Morning, the way psychedelic folk should sound if it weren't just a fad.
On the Beach and Field On Water toy with Terry Riley's In C and similar minimalist symphonies.
All the tracks exude a sense of mystery and magic.
And the arcane element is particularly uncontrolled in the tribal ethnic nightmares
of Seeds and Sleepers Kieep Sleeping.
There isn't much to anchor Vida's music to a concept, but the sheer wealth of
ideas is enough to justify nine albums, not just nine songs.
Ben Vida, Keith Fullerton Whitman and Greg Davis collaborated on Esstends-Esstends-Esstends (Pan, 2012).
Ben Vida's Extraction (2013) involved
visual artist Meredyth Sparks and writer Anthony Elms.
Collaborations with jazz guitarist Greg Davis yielded
Ben Vida and Greg Davis (2010) and
Working Models (Los Discos Enfantasmes, 2013).
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