Birdsongs of the Mesozoic began as a side project by Roger Miller and Martin Swope who were members of the Boston band Mission of Burma. They were joined by Rick Scot and Erik Lindgren for their debut recording, a self-titled EP, in 1983. With Mission of Burma dissolving at about this time, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic became a full-time band.
With Pyroclastics, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic returned somewhat to its roots. The music is hard to categorize being all instrumental with guitar, keys and alot of atonal sax, owing more to fusion jazz than straight rock. It is improvisational sounding with lots of strange sounds that can almost distract from the main themes. The songs tend to be rather short and range from some fairly hard stuff with funky grooves to the theme from the Simpsons.
Its signature sound -- pulsing keyboards, jagged harmonies, weird time signatures, slash-and-burn guitar -- is back stronger than ever; "Shortwave Longride" and "Pleasure Island" would both have sounded more or less at home on Magnetic Flip (except for the presence of Ken Field’s saxophone). And the band's hilarious rendition of the theme from The Simpsons is a wry look backwards as well, a reminder of the arrangement of the Rocky and Bullwinkle theme on their first album. Field has managed to insinuate himself so seamlessly into the Birdsongs sound by this point that while his saxophone lines do alter it noticeably, they do so subtly and from the inside -- note, in particular, the subtle jazz flavoring he gives to "Tyronglaea II" (otherwise an archetypal piece of old-fashioned Mesozoicism). The band also takes another run at Brian Eno’s "Sombre Reptiles" (a piece they had tackled in an unreleased recording from 1983) and comes up with a surprisingly gentle rendition of Brian Wilson's hymn-like "Our Prayer." Pyroclastics definitely marks a step forward for this band, but it remains rooted in its old strengths. Recommended for the musically daring.
1. Shortwave Longride 2. Pleasure Island 3. I'm A Pterodactyl 4. Why Not Circulate
5. Sled 6. The Simpsons 7. Tyronglaea II 8. Papercutstone 9. Sombre Reptiles
10. Nothing But Trouble 11. Tomorrow Never Came 12. Our Prayer