The Legend of Bird’s Hill


    Using electronic and acoustic tools, Canadian psyche-peddler Bryce Kushnier sets out on vast, sporadically messy experiments under the Vitaminsforyou moniker. The Legend of Bird’s Hill, while not the stuff of legends, is an elaborate, trippy effort that ripples with the beat-looped, ambient noise that makes Manitoba’s (Caribou‘s) Up in Flames so unexpectedly delightful. On this, his first full-length since 2003’s I’m Sorry Forever and For Always, Kushnier pays tribute Winnipeg’s Bird’s Hill park with expansive spreads of bells, beat programming, guitar, and treated vocal melodies repeated ad nauseum.


    In the stronger instances on The Legend of Bird’s Hill, Kushnier colors his ventures with various stimulating sources so that the pieces that grow quickly redundant aren’t as noticeable. The incessant melodies that underscore the pizzicato strings-flavored “Being Away Fame (A Song for the Xenophobic)” or the epic-length “So Long Pleasant Bay” are these particular tracks’ only melodies. “Pleasant Bay’s” lovely opening, for example, featuring brief background street chatter, harps, and looming strings, breathes life into the album’s first actual song. After two minutes, Kushnier’s voice has entered, becoming more prominent alongside swirling background guitar harmonics, chimes and an increasingly urgent beat. When more drums and bits of brass enter, the same vocal line has carried on for four and a half minutes. That’s an eternity, even for Sigur Ros.


    So Kushnier’s ideas to layer more and more orchestration over his much-treaded melodies are necessary, and often extremely well-executed. Quirky wordless stop-offs are even more Manitoba-like, with kitchen-sink production over folky guitar structures (“1986”) and somewhat sinister warbling analog synths (“Welcome to Echo Valley Saskatchewan”). The album’s two-part miniseries, “Nothing Ever Is (In Two Parts)” and “Everything Always Is” showcases Kushnier’s strong songwriting ability in flamboyantly psyche lyric sense (“And now we’re floating on a human sea on a raft that’s made of human teeth”), and a dense arrangement of shuffling percussion, hand claps, whistles, and whatever else he can fit into the mix. Together with the deep electro beats and string-play of “Me, Arden, and Iran-Contra” (sadly no mention of Ollie North), the double-shot is an experiment-defining moment for The Legend of Bird’s Hill, because it’s Kushnier’s best: melody enrichment, stylish production, and wayward, legend-making tomfoolery.


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