The Doomed Bird Of Providence – Burrowed Into The Soft Sky (Front & Follow)


The Doomed Bird Of Providence have been threatening this album for a while. Not in terms of press-releases or trailers, although the notes surrounding this record are interesting and worth reading. Instead, the inherent violence that has always been controlled and channelled in previous albums has here been unchained. Mark Kluzek’s words: barked blood-soaked tales of colonial evils in the earliest years of Australian settlement by Europeans, are chilling and evocative but their explicitness framed the view. ‘Burrowed Into The Soft Sky’, devoid of singing and entirely instrumental, acts as a ‘come and see’, a pulled-back curtain. Unconstrained by a narrative, the listener’s mind is left to wander a smoking, wasted soundscape.

Composed of two long-form songs, the first-half title-track begins with flutes and violins describing a straight line, a shore or horizon, delicate and frayed through mist; a wistful, if tenuous peace. The opening calm quickly becomes confused by backwards tape sweeps; the structure becoming relentlessly percussive, stillness nudged aside in favour of fidgety agitation.  The drums, a worryingly persistent boot, impatiently tapping a floor. This periodic tipping of mood is constant: some sections are delicate, bittersweet and beautiful; weaving tunes that are soft and forgiving, sleepy lovers’ ballads. But then a gulf will open; strings grating and moaning where they soothed and sang before. A descending drone pulls the piece down into the depths, like Gavin Bryar’s ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’; Doomed Bird’s music not carried across the ocean, but down the years; not sunk in freezing  waters, but wading through the warm blood of dispersed, dispossessed and murdered people. The scales then tip again and the first side plays out in a glow of companionship and community, a tired but happy waltz; a squeezed accordion acting as a clenching set of arms around the shoulders.

By contrast, the second half, ‘The Blood Dimmed Tide Is Loosed’, is unambiguous all-is-lost despair. Violins stroke in shrill stalking carrion circles. Frightening silences are pierced with squealing guitar feedback. The music swells and contracts like laboured breaths, the fall and rise a forbidding curve of stony sound. Tumultuous sudden outbreaks of raggedly improvised full-band clatter frequently erupt. Violins saw like they’re removing gangrenous limbs. The drums are a trampling, rolling destructive force. Guitar feedback is a constant inescapable menace. The bass is sick and throbbing. This is truly hopeless music, befitting its subject matter. Even a slower, less dramatic section is stifling, Katie English’s flute looping like the industrious knotting of nooses.

The lack of any narrative expressed vocally only allows the listener to conjure the horrors themselves. The seeds of images planted by Kozulek in previous Doomed Bird Of Providence releases sprout on this more open canvas into Goya trees of horror, branches decorated with the dismembered. The title is borrowed from ‘Voss’ by Patrick White, but while listening to this album I remembered and dug out another haunting dream passage from that book: ‘Then he looked at her and saw that they had cut off her hair, and below the surprising stubble that remained, they had paired the flesh from her face. She was now quite naked. And beautiful. Her eyes were drenching him.’ ‘Burrowed into the Soft Sky’ is a searing, naked, unflinching condemnation of violence visited upon the innocent, scored in sound; it is beautiful, horrible, drenching music.

Purchase ‘ Burrowed Into The Soft Sky’ here

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