Herd of Birds #1: "Rₒ" liner notes swinging triplets from Xeno Canto as collective behavior


12/13/2020> In anticipation of Herd of Birds being released on 12/24 we're gonna blog liner notes (w/ accompanying videos, lyrics, etc.) for each track daily for the next 11 days, in the order the #s appear on the album. We originully was gunna call the album Double Suicide + stage a photo to look like the 1 of Lennon + Ono kissing on the cover of Double Fantasy but then covid came along + seemed the world didn't need more morbidness. Since we wasn't going nowhere cuz of the pandemic we started watching/listening to the creatures in our yard + then we came across the Xeno Canto site + sort of became obsessed w/ listening to bird songs from around the world. A lot of our #s started incorporating these bird sounds + the lyrics seemed to bee mostly about birds. The songs are also inevitably influenzed by this global pandemic we found ourself in, not to menshun the oppressiveness of this fascist police state.

[track image taken from { untitled: under the auspices }]

> The opening # is "Rₒ" ('R naught'... the basic reproduction #/indicator for a d-zzz's contagiousness). Like unsound (track 2 of our 1st album, un) "Rₒ" uses a Purdie shuffle beat... in fact, we found ourselves using triplet rhythms a lot throughout this album + almost all the rhythms swing... not that we consciously tried to but just seems it's the rhythm that comes most naturally to us, which makes it difficult to use drum machines or loops. We din't even know what a "swing" beat was until recently, think it was when we were redoing an old song of ours (when we used real drums) + was trying to recreate the rhythm on a drum machine + finding that it never quite matched. Then we discovered that nifty "swing" dial on the Logic Pro X drum designer + now we find ourselves cranking it most every #... which sounds pretty lame, to artificially recreate swing, but whatever, we don't have a drum set (nor room for 1) + doing the drums on our drum pad would be tedious. We usually only use that (Alessis SamplePad) for fills + to supplement the basic rhythm (on "Rₒ" we went particularly crazy w/ timbales).

> Maybe we should back up + talk more generally about our recording process for the #s on Herd of Birds, which ain't so diffrent from the last 2 albums (tho on the 1st album we used GarageBand instead of Logic Pro X... not that there's much of a diffrence). We laid down the trax w/ LPX, usually starting w/ guitar just cuz that's what we typically use to write songs (we often delete the original guitar track later, but at least we get the chord progression/strong structure down to play/sing along to) + then we keep layering on more parts. We try to write down what we're doing in case we ever want to go back to figure out how to play it, but even still ½ the time we halve no idea what we're doing + if u asked us to play it live we wouldn't know how. Most of the songs on this album also have weird alternate tunings so even if we wrote down the chords they only apply to that tuning (which we didn't always note). But perhaps this was the plan for "Rₒ" case u want to try it yourself (we don't copyright our work so any bands wanting to play these have at it, as long as u don't copyright it):

> Or (strumming the chords now) maybe it's these chords, tho think we ended up using the bottom progression in another # (which is another thing we often do, splice + collage bits of songs into other songs after the fact):

> ... actually (as we flip thru the notebook) maybe this is it... cuz we originally called the song Crow Fight in LPX + we mention how we're using the Purdy shuffle... so it does use an alternate tuning of DADADD (close to the ostrich tuning Lou Reed often used) or shit, what do we know, maybe it uses the FADGCF tuning on the left page:

> In any event, once we get the song down instrawmentally then we write the lyrics. Then we hand off the instrumental demo + lyrics to our bedder-½ + she goes down to our ½-bathroom in the basement (quietest room in the house) + records the vocals on her laptop (in GarageBand), coming up w/ all the harmonizations. Then she dropboxes the vocal WAVs to us. By this point we've exported the individual tracks to WAV files which we reimport into Adobe Audition just cuz we find it much better for mastering (u have far more control over sound design, manipulating the actual waveforms). The 1 effect we used a lot on this album was a reverse reverb effect on her voice, which u can get by flipping the track backwards, applying reverb + then flipping it back forward.

> The bird @ the beginning of "Rₒ" is a Forest Raven (from Tasmania) taking flight that we downloaded from Xeno Canto. Can't remember what film the "i find the statue reminds me of death" sound byte is from but whatever it was is in the public domain. Musically the song is inspired by Swans, most notably the quietly loud subtle guitar sound achieved by Norm Westberg, tho we used acoustic (all the guitar tracks on this album were recorded on our black Fender acoustic just cuz we like how it holds its tuning unlike our red hollow-body epiphone that we used on our last 2 albums). We have a bass but it's cheap + we also don't like how it sounds so more often than not we did the bass parts on either a Behringer D-series "mini-Boog" or an Arturia Mini-Brute 2S... here's our desktop setup:

> Come to think of it tho, the droning bass sound on "Rₒ" was recorded on our flea market harmonium that we got in Rome + then tweaked w/ some resonance filters (which u can really hear @ the end).

the foot-powered Roman harmonium that sits behind our desk

+ yes, that's an autoharp, but we just got it so didn't use it on Herd of Birds (tho have already used it on 2 new songs... we haven't even released this album + were working on the next!). We haven't used the trombone on any songs yet... not sure it even works but maybe we're not playing it right (we found it on the street). Earlier in the year we made this playlist that we listened to that inspired our album:

> Anyway, hear's the video for "Rₒ" (appropriating footage from Beauty and the Beast, The Birds, Jason + the Argonauts + other random bits,.. let's hope they don't sue us, but being that we usually only get single-digit view counts on these videos they'll probly never bother):

> Lyrically the song is about out pet subject, population control, probly our primary concern from which all the other issues this planet faces stem from yet no 1 wants to talk about, the biggest mother-fuckin' elephant in the room ever (+ we said we wasn't gonna make a morbid album haha). Back when we wrote this (early summer) it was true that "the # of dead from covid is the same as the daily birth toll," tho now it ain't entirely true... the total # of ppl that have died from covid is 1.6 M which is about 4x the daily birth toll (385 K). But still, if u take the yearly amount (140 M babies are born each year) than the 1.6 M that have died from covid is a drop in the bucket (unless u personally happen to know 1 of those ppl) to staunch the "hemorrhaging herd of humuns". We also think it's cool how we have unique collective nouns for most every animal (or in the case of birds, each species), special names when they gather in groups, a diffrent word for their collective behavior... + that's essentially the gist of the song, a crowd-sourced list of the various collective nouns:


sink or swim he said
take wing or sprout new means
the meek weaklings
are the weakest link

seagulls don’t come in flocks
they swarm in colonies
they prey on humun babies
the old + the weak

2-fold the river takes us
each 1 by scruff of neck
4 x 4 rank + file
8 x 8 x 32 x 64
512... 4096
dead souls
1,048,576 unsaved

1,000,000 blue moon jellies
moored smack dab in Venice lagoon
an unkindness of ravens
a bevy of quail
a murder of crows
roosting ready to swoon

a scurry of squirrels
pigs in a drift
pandemonium of parrots
donkeys in droves

a shiver of sharks
quiver of cobras
a shadow of jaguars
a parliament of owls

the # of dead from covid
the same as the daily birth toll
a hemorrhaging herd of humuns
armed + ready to annihilate us all

hawks in a kettle
a curfew of curlews
conspiracy of lemurs
woodpeckers descend

a slice of lemmings
a fever of stingrays
a zeal of zebras
a shrewdness of apes

a murmur from starlings
mum’s the word
scene of the murder
not to be heard *

the R₀ of nautilus
buoyancy controlled
Jason chasing the fleece
losing zzz’s in brain folds
the # of dead nowhere near the birth toll...

[* or "knot to bee herd" deepending on your interpretation... + that's the 1st # off Herd of Birds, tomorrow we'll go into "Colony Cullapse," which ain't about birds but bees... ]

823 <(current)> 825> HoB #2: Culling + lapsing colonies into the resinant freakwindsea of "Colony Collapse"
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