There will come a time when we all congregate as senior citizens, recapping the insanity that was life in the year 2020. And as my geriatric friends try to one-up each other with crazy stories from the Year of WTF, I'll sit back in my diaper and smile, waiting my turn. Because I'll know that in the spring of that year, I listened to and reviewed a metal album fronted by a bird.
What's that you say? You've heard of weirder? I don't believe you, but fine. Prognosis Dire by Naegleria Fowleri goes to another level. Not only is this band's lead singer a parrot named Luna Bird, but the drummer is an artificial intelligence program run on a miniature desktop computer.
Need more convincing? The only human in the band is none other than St. Johnsbury's resident sonic instigator Bostjan Zupancic, aka Russ Hayes, who writes and performs his music in the Eastern-influenced 19 EDO-scale, otherwise known as microtonal music. So, to review: A bird, an AI program and a dude playing metal that sounds out-of-key to the Western ear form Naegleria Fowleri — named for a brain-eating amoeba, by the way. So there's that, too.
I know you're wondering: How good is the bird? Is this the Freddie Mercury of parrots? Well, let me tell you ... uh, I don't fucking know. It's a bird, man.
On the sludgy, nü-metal-ish "Nausea," Luna comes in hot, honking and bleeping in what I can only imagine is a parrot slow jam, perhaps an ode to another bird's cloaca?
On "Latex Agglutination," Zupancic and his AI drummer construct a churning, grinding riff explosion for Luna to really cut loose on. She's clearly not worried about her phrasing on this one, opting instead for a blast of paranoid-sounding warbles that remind me a little of this time I watched an interview with Lil Wayne in which he was all coked out.
The thought that nagged me as I tried to decipher "Amphotericin B" — all while Luna repeated a microtonal honk over and over, like a golf cart going in reverse — was, What if this is an avian concept record? What if, over these nigh-unlistenable 14 tracks, Zupancic and his bird are telling an epic avian story?
All the songs are named either for brain maladies, such as "Ataxia," or the remedies that treat them, such as "Miltefosine." Could this be a concept record about the world's first bird doctor? (As in, a bird who is also a doctor.) But then I realized I was trying to decipher bird warbles, which I'm pretty sure was how Nikola Tesla started losing his marbles, so I went ahead and stopped wondering.
There aren't many instances when I can advise putting on Prognosis Dire to kick back and enjoy the listen. Actually, there are none.
That said, sometimes the weirdest music must be cherished. Snark aside, I truly love that someone made a microtonal metal album with an AI, fronted by a bird. If you want to get all up in that kind of weird, check out Prognosis Dire, available on Wednesday, April 1, at naegleriafowleri.bandcamp.com, and enjoy the birdsong.