30 Nov 2020
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Biobird - Album Review: Riders

13 Aug 2020 // A review by Gareth Heta
Crisp production, organic drums, layered percussion and gritty, overdriven bass are hallmarks of Biobird's work: presented here for the first time in LP format, it’s a chance to draw together the specific vibe and tone (developed to great success on 2019’s Count to Ten EP) into a cohesive whole.


Title track
Riders opens with ominous swells before plunging into a dark, techy workout reminiscent of early-2000’s Drum & Bass staples such as Universal Project and Keaton; the second drop change-up bounces along on a half-time beat. Extra Ordinary is techstep reworked with high, dry snares and incessantly mutating fuzzy bass, while The Predicament builds with stomping, off-kilter drums and sizzles of mentasm into a tech-heavy roller, with a massive, full mixdown similar to cutting-edge producers like Current Value.

Questions Ignored, at 6+ minutes clocking in as the longest track on the LP, is a dark, meditative journey that wouldn’t be out of place on a label like Metalheadz or Moving Shadow, and is among a handful of cuts using a 5/4 beat to disturbing effect. Similarly, on highlight R.E.A.V.E., a video-gamey central riff suggests a lighter turn but the sludgy bass, anxiety-ridden strings and tricky 5/4 beat take the listener down a more sinister path, while Abstraction finds bongo and tin-drums clattering before a juddering b-line pummels the abstract beat into a frenzy.

Some of the deeper tunes stand out: Change of Heart with its layered claps, vinyl crackle and rainfall FX has the air of hazy menace found on influential bass-oriented electronic artists such as Burial. Surge is all guttural, distorted bass stabs and splutters; Fretters is a kinetic shuffle bursting at the seams with energy: blips and warbles float on the surface of the propulsive beat.

And there are lighter touches too: intricate percussive hits skitter across a soothing bed of synth and jazzy piano on A Thousand Days, with a trademark fuzzed bass making its mark; Yearning opens with a disturbing Pink Floyd-esque chopped vocal before settling into a cheeky stepping beat with dubby, offbeat key twangs.

Riders is a unique take on a genre that has come to be defined by big drops, repetitive structures and short running times; Biobird’s approach is to saturate the aural palette to ensure all elements are satisfying, while engineering enough variation and nuance to push beyond the dancefloor and into the realm of satisfying, standalone tunes. It’s also an album in the best sense: digested as a whole, it reveals itself to the listener as an experience, and not just a collection of 1’s and 0’s.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Biobird

Releases

Riders
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Count To Ten
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Balance LP
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Counter Productive
Year: 2018
Type: EP
Tribes
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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