Birds in the Brickwork ~ Twelve Months
Written by ELF Radio (Team) on 04.11.2023
It’s calendar time again! A calendar offers a new slate of twelve months, each represented by the turning of a page. This monthly ritual is reflected in the third annual calendar and soundtrack from Birds in the Brickwork, which gives us the opportunity to look forward and backward, like Janus.
We’re about to get lost in time. The new calendar is the 2024 calendar, which means that today’s song, “November (The Ageing Approach)” is taken from the 2023 set. A slow fade introduces the track, which like much of the artist’s output yields a peaceful, shoegaze tone. November was once the month between falling leaves and snow, but as leaves have begun to fall later, it is now a month of vibrant colors, as evidenced by Volume One‘s “November (Trees Become Bare)”. But in next year’s “November (Spirals”), the guitars are brighter, the mood lighter, like the first sight of orange, russet and vermilion when one crosses over the ridge. Or might one extrapolate, hoping that the ebullient piece represents a period twelve months from now, when global conditions are somehow, miraculously better?
In the first volume, the drawing down of the year is represented by a wistful piano piece, written during the heart of COVID when everything was uncertain and many were able to join loved ones for the holidays. The second volume’s December is gauzy and loop-like, adrift in reverie, while the new December (“Snow Fell On The Scrapyard”) imitates frozen precipitation with shuffling static. Today we are one month away from meteorological winter, which arrives three months before astronomical winter, closer to the new year.
Or shall we start these albums in January? Each year brings a new perspective. “January (Over Frozen Farmland)” is surprisingly upbeat, like a curtain opened to reveal a sparkling landscape. In contrast, “January (Brittle Hope Remains)” seems injured and resolute, a reflection of the artist’s condition at the time. “January (Ever Decreasing Circles)” splits the difference, providing perspective on the arc of a life. Since we love winter music, we’re enamored with tracks that include seasonal references in their titles; “February (Smoke and Frost)” is one of these, passing by so swiftly we remember the brevity of the month. “February (In Blue Light)” is spooky, sounding more than a bit like October, while “February (After Rain)” warms the weather forecast earlier than expected.
We’ve just travelled three times through a single season, although the easier way to enjoy the calendar music is to allow it to play through. When doing so, the months flash by in minutes, an acceleration of time. Even so, there are moments of pause; Volume One‘s “September (Schools)” is built around a child’s singsong sample, while the sprightliness of Volume Two‘s “May (Rebirthing Dance)” suggests a maypole, an association that cemented in Volume Three‘s “May (Erecting the Maypole)”, one of the happiest selections of the three-year stretch.
In order to imagine what a future month might sound like, one must have lived through many months of the same name; even so, the skies are always changing, as is the observer. The only constant: in these albums, the forecast calls for calm. (Richard Allen)
Birds in the Brickwork’s third annual calendar and soundtrack offers peaceful, shoegaze tones and represents the passing of time through the seasons.