Monday, 5 January 2015

EP Review - Hector Bizerk - The Bird That Never Flew

Never content to rest on their laurels, Glasgow hip-hop duo Hector Bizerk, push the barriers further and further with their latest EP The Bird That Never Flew,  the second in their Glasgow motto influenced series of four.  The EP not only sees the band test themselves; the production is markedly different and Louie's rhymes sharper than before; but also expands their delivery of the hip-hop art form as it incorporates visual artist Pearl Kinnear's art into the performance.

For those familiar with Hector Bizerk's spitfire style of 'Drums.Rap', EP opener Pearl Pictures,  with it's genteel acoustic guitar providing the backdrop to Louie's vocals, signposts from the word go that preconceived notions of the duo, and indeed hip-hop, are not welcome here.  The track has the aura of a closing track, but in actuality works nicely as an entry to the EP, compared to the harsher sounds to come, with MC Louie dissecting the "inner city wilderness" of Glasgow where salvation comes via music, art and creativity. 

People Make Glasgow
,  a take on the now unofficial motto of Glasgow, is a dark, unnerving ode to the city.  Drummer, and in-house producer, Audrey Tait, expands the songs boundaries with a swirling, sweeping electronic sound-scape dripped in icy irrelevance, which when combined with Louie's vocals and the foreboding, almost tribal drums, creates a dystopian image that mocks and laughs at the motto's intended meaning.  Louie doesn't hold back in laying out the darker side of the city, and it's inhabitants past and present.  "Do you think I came up the Clyde in a banana boat?" he proclaims while also pointing to the unspoken "Commonwealth secrecy" which includes the colonial past and the ousting of local residents to make way for the 2014 games.

It could be argued that The Bird That Never Flew  borders more on the spoken word side of hip-hop than ever before, a claim which is bolstered by the appearance of Scotland's Makar Liz Lochhead on Trouble Is Not My Middle Name.  A noted fan of the band; she has performed a cover of Party At A&E;  her appearance is audibly strange with the noted difference between Louie's clipped and angry vocals and her cool and pacified verse.  However her guest spot is more than just a gimmick.  It's a cultural statement, a joining of hands across generations, embodying the same message, the same rejection of labels.  The use of her distinguished and elder voice to throw those words back in the faces of the same voices that would label Hector Bizerk 'troublemakers' is proof that Hector Bizerk understand the act of delivering a message as much as the message itself.

The Bird That Never Flew  fleshes out several themes.  Firstly addressing the residents of Glasgow, afflicted by poverty, who never 'flew', or were told they never would.  Louie's lyrics touch on the affluence gap and the lack of social mobility - "the land of milk and honey where too few drank".  More topically, there's a political edge to the EP, which contrasts the nature of Glasgow's vote for 'Yes' against the nationwide 'No' vote - "liberation was short lived". 

Hector Bizerk continue to show why over the past few years they have steadily grown and garnered support from all quarters.  Music, at it's finest, is truly an art form.  With The Bird That Never Flew,  Hector Bizerk have fused the visual and the aural into a package with pushes, probes and satisfies both senses. 

- Neil Wilson

Hector Bizerk - The Bird That Never Flew  was released as a film premier at Glasgow's The Poetry Club on 28th November 2014.  Keep an eye on the band's Facebook page for notification of a wider release in the near future.

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