Avian Invasion – Children Of The Stars – Album Review by Enjy
by Dogpatch Press Staff
Matthew Ebel is a well-known fandom musician who has begun a new project that sees him shifting from his roots of piano-based lyrical works to what he has dubbed “progressive (bird)house” with hints of trance peppered throughout. Performing under the name “Bird One,” Ebel dons a masquerade-like beak and colorful outfits as he crafts melodies that have been played at such important venues as The Roxy and even the Grand Ole Opry. How well does Bird One’s musical prowess transfer from Elton John to EDM? We are going to take a look at his 6-song EP titled Children Of The Stars to find out.
We Looked Up is the first song on the EP. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, explaining in a narrative form over a pulsing, dark, bass driven beat that the world has transformed into a dystopian society of people who do not trust each other. “Now the people built only walls. The shadow whispered in their ears, told the people that only darkness could defeat darkness,” the narrator states, his voice tinged with flanges and pitch shifts that give it an eerie quality, as if maybe you cannot trust him, either. For those of you who wonder about Ebel’s piano work, it is front and center here, clean keys tapping out a spacey melody over the grimy bass and drums in the background, evoking images of a clean galaxy over a dirty megacity. Indeed that is where the narrative goes next, as the narrator explains that one man said he saw light, and the people looked up, hence the track’s title. The song breaks into a happy tone after a rise, painting the picture of the land being flooded with light as they break down the walls. This track is a master class in how to use texture and tone to create a soundscape, and Bird One did an extremely good job at telling the story with more than words. “Only the light can defeat darkness, and there is always light,” the line the song is closed with, is particularly powerful and important to remember in trying times such as these. Absolutely a 10 out of 10.
Something In The Inner Rim is the next track. The first half of the song seems to be paint-by-numbers house, with the typical boom-clap half notes that define the genre. Bird One’s piano melodies help separate it from the pack, but admittedly this is my least favorite track of the album. It is easy to get lost in and dance to, of course, but the arpeggiated notes and ham-and-cheese beats leave me feeling a bit empty after hearing the artistry put into the first track. In the middle of the playtime, it shifts to a very broad and sweeping church organ sound with the tinkling of a piano, and this is my favorite part of the song. This album is presented to be a space opera, and this particular section takes it very seriously, until it shifts back to the basic beat of the first half, leaving me feeling a tad disappointed that it didn’t go anywhere. This song is not bad by any means, but it is very empty-feeling, a strange helping of corner club music in an album that oozes with artistry and personality. A great party song, but it will not leave an impression on you. I give this one a 7 out of 10.
The next song, We Are Not There Yet, started out much the same, and it had me a bit worried until the pleasant crooning of Bird One floated over the beat. Creative with his rhyme schemes and using his voice to set the tone, he pulls off the feeling of bleak happiness with aplomb. He sings about dancing and being illuminated, always capping off happy thoughts or platitudes with the phrase “but we are not there yet”, and delivers this feeling expertly by lending a droning, sad tone to his voice. This is against the backdrop of a bell-chiming piano that sounds at home with The Doors or The Animals, which is a perfect sound for such a meloncholy song. Ending the song with his voice rising to be more emotional and urgent, Bird One flexes his dynamic muscles by turning the song from a sadness of not being there yet to a rallying cry, pleading with people to “transcend the will to hate“. He still insists that “we are not there yet,” but speaking about it as more of a goal than something out of reach. His vocal chops are on full display here, and the strength and conviction with which he hits his notes makes it obvious as to why he has become such a household name around conventions and performed on the same stages as legends. This song is a solid 9 out of 10.
— ΔVΙΔΝ ΙΝVΔЅΙϴΝ (@avianinvasion) February 21, 2019
The Endless Sea, referring to the rolling darkness of black and stars that is space, is next up. Instantly, it hits you with a different feeling than the first half of the album which was a definite positive. It features a throbbing bassline and a light melody on top, crafted with a chiptune-like sound that sounds very at home in a story about space travel. Bird One absolutely kills it on the piano here, a hammering melody with trills reminiscent of a Beethoven piece layered atop a trance beat that sucks you in further and further as it goes on. This song is constant fighting between classical overtones and computerized undertones, really driving home the idea of being adrift in something as timeless as the galaxy with something as modern as a space vessel. Not only will this song leave you sweating on the dance floor, it will leave you breathless with Bird One’s seemingly endless ability to paint a picture with his music. 9 out of 10.
Lisara’s Trials, which follows, takes the backbeats in another new direction and had me instantly bouncing up and down in my chair as it hit me with probably one of the sexiest bass riffs I have ever heard. The kind where you hear it, and you involuntarily go “uhhhhn!” because it feels that good. Bird One swoops in with a jazz riff on the bell-keys, and just keeps adding more pieces on top of the delicious layer cake that is this absolute -slapper-. Sounding like something straight out of Daft Punk’s library, this song brings the heat and keeps it hot with a synth section that sounds like a fuzz-covered guitar solo, and you can practically feel the warmth of a packed, insane dance floor as it rattles around in your head. Bird One’s choice to smash together disco, funk, and jazz was a thrilling experience and one I seriously hope to hear more of. This is by far my favorite song on the album, and it has a permanent spot in my playlist. This song could carry the album by itself, and is a good indicator of the mainstream success that Bird One could be, and probably will be, enjoying. 10 out of 10. 11 out of 10. 20 out of 10. LISTEN TO THIS SONG.
The last and title track, Children Of The Stars, is something Ebel would have released during his Goodbye Planet Earth days with a dressing of future pop. His vocals feature on this again, less computerized than We Are Not There Yet, but his tonal delivery still holds up perfectly. Raw musicianship like that deserves respect, and Bird One commands it with his skills. He finishes the story of the album here, singing a tune about how humanity used to be close, then drifted apart, leading into the tale that he told with They Looked Up. After their trials and hardships, humanity has flourished again, taking the idea that “whether we are born from dust or monkies, whether we are born from farm or factories, nothing changes who we are, we are children of the stars”. It’s a feel good message over a bubblegum beat that leaves a bit to be desired, but as usual Bird One’s artistry sands away the plainness of what lies beneath to deliver a great experience, one full of personality and joy. 8 out of 10.
Headed to the @fetch_nw #BarkLoud Speakeasy for tonight's dose of chill house and partying like it's 1929.@fetchNW #edm #dance #music #Concert #house #blessed #birds #cocktails #speakeasy #seattle pic.twitter.com/QHK8gyNIec
— ΔVΙΔΝ ΙΝVΔЅΙϴΝ (@avianinvasion) February 24, 2019
This album is a great foot forward for Bird One’s debut, and it will show the world that he is a force to be reckoned with in any genre he chooses to delve into. An ambitious project that delivers on its sweeping promise of something great, Children Of The Stars sets the stage for Avian Invasion to begin an invasion of the EDM scene. He constantly uses his skills with the piano and melody-driven music to morph house music into something more textured, something that is to be focused on as well as danced to, and pulls it off with surprising expertise for someone so new to the genre. I have very high hopes for what Bird One continues to put out in this regard, and the fandoms who enjoy his work so much will love this outing just as much as anything else he’s put out. The weaker point of this album is the first half, but I attribute Bird One’s seemingly singular drum track as the only scent of him being an EDM novice that this EP really shows. Bird One is a very skilled musician, but I sense that he rested on common time and simple beats to feel out the composition of danceable tracks while trying to tell his story while he dips his talons into this new genre. He does a well enough job to cover up this shortcoming, and with tracks like The Endless Sea and Lisara’s Trials, he has shown that with time, he will pull himself into realms all his own.
You can stream Children Of The Stars for FREE at https://avianinvasion.com/ and listen to other singles Bird One has released as well, to get excited for what he will bring us in the future. I know I am.
Album Score: 8.5 out of 10
Album Banger: Lisara’s Trials
Album Hanger: Something In The Inner Rim
WHEN WE DANCE,
WE BRING FIRE TO THE EARTH
THE NEW SINGLE FROM AVIAN INVASION:#SunDance
— ΔVΙΔΝ ΙΝVΔЅΙϴΝ (@avianinvasion) April 26, 2019