Sometimes you sit down with an album, and the story the musician is trying to tell you is clear and simple. This is not one of those times – but is that a bad thing?
This is our third peek at the catalogue of Edinburgh-based purveyors of musical oddity Bearsuit Records, and they’re back with another album that’s both fascinating and difficult. We’ve previously looked at albums by Harold NoNo, and Bunny and the Invalid Singers, and now it’s the turn of Andrei Rikichi with the marvellously titled Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness. And, like Harold NoNo, this one is not an easy listen.
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Clocking in at a brisk 27 minutes over 14 tracks, this album is definitely best described as being “experimental”. There are some tracks that you could listen to and confidently state that they had a conventional rhythm and structure, while others sound more like what you might get if you fed The Chemical Brothers and Aphex Twin into an AI and asked it to generate an album.
In fact, is that what this is? There’s no proof Andrei Rikichi isn’t actually the pseudonym of some AI that Bearsuit Records are keeping locked in a shed, forcing it to generate music for them. If the rise of our robot overlords comes about because of music sweatshops, that.would certainly be one of the more original apocalyptic scenarios. But we’ve got side-tracked, in part because this is a tough album to talk about.
Some tracks sound like they’ve escaped from a pulp sci-fi movie (Track 12 – ‘Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness’), others feel like they should be soundtracking some strange, blasted post-apocalyptic wilderness (Track 05 – ‘Bag, Lyrics, New Prescription’) while others are what you might find blaring from tannoys in a demonic carnival as an axe-wielding maniac clown chases you between the stalls (Track 04 – ‘What Happened To Whitey Wallace?’). Then there are others like Track 06 – ‘This’, which seem almost eager to be over. It’s rather reminiscent of ‘I’m So Sad, So Very, Very Sad’ from the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack, or even Napalm Death’s infamous ‘You Suffer’.
Like Harold NoNo, this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s disjointed, weird, confusing, sometimes harsh, occasionally melodic, and it makes me happy that there are still companies out there like Bearsuit who remind us all that music is more than just the mainstream and what’s popular in the charts or on TikTok. There are still folks out there pushing the boundaries of how we define what music is, and still record labels willing to give them a home and a chance to find an audience.
Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness is out now from Bearsuit Records.