The dawn of MySpace Music, SonicBids and any number of other ubiquitous web-based promotional tools has made the consumption of music remarkably easy for even the most casual fan. While this unprecedented age of accessibility is by most accounts a boon, it has caused an unintended — and to some degree unwelcome — side effect: uncloaking the mystery.
Part of the thrill of discovering new music is that initial sense of trepidation, of confronting the unknown. So, in a way, the ability to click a mouse and process a gazillion bits of info on a band before even hearing them denies us that experience. It taints our impressions before we can form our own. The Twitter-worthy phrase is “TMI.” Fortunately, there are still bands that guard their secrets, keeping the mystery intact. Bands like Dangerbird.
Burlington-based Dangerbird are Rob Voland, Brian Hanf and Thomas Barnes. They formed in 2006, out of the ashes of late B-town outfit Transit. That’s pretty much all they’ll tell you about themselves — and it’s all you need to know, really. Refreshingly, everything else must be gleaned from their hazy but gripping, self-titled debut EP.
The disc opens on “Thief,” which lays bare the recording’s bleary-eyed aesthetic. Sleepy, reverb-washed guitar simmers and shimmers as Voland’s flanged vocals creep into the mix. Picture Do Make Say Think fronted by Mojave 3’s Neil Halstead — on an opium bender, perhaps — and you’re on the right track.
The narcotic delirium continues on “Afterimage.” But Voland and company inject fleeting moments of discomfiting wakefulness with spastic rhythmic ruptures. However, even these rude intrusions ultimately succumb to the ethereal soma, evaporating almost as quickly as they appear.
“D Minor” is a proggy, eight-and-a-half minute epic. Following a typically somnolent sonic fog, Voland’s guitar explodes in a torrent of roiling psychedelia and builds to the song’s exhausted conclusion.
“Postmark” delivers still more druggy hypnosis. But this time Voland wields an adventurous melody that challenges its otherwise opaque environs. The contrast is both fracturing and beautiful, particularly as his vocal bursts flutter between speakers — or better yet, headphones — like a sonic firefly.
“Avalanche” closes the disc and is aptly named: the cacophonous landslide sweeps the listener away over a bruising 12 minutes.
In a time when music is all but spoon-fed to the masses, Dangerbird EP is a captivating enigma. And, hopefully, one that local listeners will seek out and unravel for themselves.