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coverpic flag New Zealand - Full Moon 248 - 11/14/16

Peter Jefferies & Jono Lonie
At Swim 2 Birds
Flying Nun Records

'At Swim-Two-Birds is a 1939 novel by Irish writer Brian O'Nolan, writing under the pseudonym Flann O'Brien. It is widely considered to be O'Brien's masterpiece, and one of the most sophisticated examples of metafiction. The novel was included in TIME magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was included in a list, published by The Guardian, of the 100 best English-language novels. (Wikipedia)

At Swim 2 Birds was originally released 29 years ago but it is now re-issued on vinyl for the first time since 1987. The album is collaboration between Peter Jefferies (of Nocturnal Projections and This Kind Of Punishment) from New Plymouth, New Zealand, and Dunedin (NZ) folk musician Jono Lonie. They captured the surrealism of O'Nolan's, or O'Brien's novel, and they managed to transfer it into some magic and mysterious melodic world of their 'sonically rich and ever expanding' (according to artist Bill Meyer) At Swim 2 Birds. From the opening "Introduction", At Swim... is a free-floating instrumental river of sounds and ambient noise with piano, guitar, violin, tape manipulations and percussive rhythms. This is a record holding minimalism and experimentalism, but it also unveils melodic beauty throughout a rich spectre of sound. "Thief With The Silver" steams up a careful, suggestive rhythm reminding me of The Residents from their more melodic side. Here's quiet, string-tinted piano-scapes, like "Piano (One)" and "Piano (Two)", side by side with some more 'extreme', experimental dream-stuff.

At Swim 2 Birds was recorded just after Jefferies parted with his brother Graeme Jefferies (Cakekitchen) and their This Kind of Punishment project, left his hometown Plymouth and landed in Dunedin where he teamed up with Lonie (who's nowadays playing/performing Irish folk music) for this album. "Tarantella" is a less abstract track, but yet it's swirling deep into the dizzying, experimental world of music. "The Standing Stone" is another fascinating piece of music, and it is Jefferies and Lonie at their most melodic. Even though this is an interesting dive into some different musical world, I think I prefer the more 'melodic' songs, or vocal music of Jefferies like found on The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World (1990) and Electricity (1994). Jefferies is of course an experimentalist, but vocals/lyrics helps add another dimension to his highly expressive musical variety.

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