Premiere: New Zealand’s enigmatic Birds of Passage gives us an exclusive listen to new album ‘The Last Garden’ before its official release


Feature Photograph: Dominic Merz-Parahi

The Breakdown

'The Last Garden' could be construed as a palimpsest for the loss of innocence and paradise lost - it is deeply infused with a sense of loss and mourning, stately and gracefully expressed in a series of gentle movements brought to life by The Birds of Passage's eloquent and delicate poetry, laid across a carpet of haunting and celestial sounds.
Denovali Records 9.0

We are very honoured to provide you with an exclusive listen to the new album from New Zealand’s mysterious Birds of Passage, ‘The Last Garden’, ahead of its release on Friday, 5 November 2021 through Denovali Records.

Other than being the nom de plume of New Zealand based poet and songwriter Alicia Merz, there is little other information about the enigmatic Birds of Passage, but when you produce such eloquently beautiful material, little else matters. And the new album (Birds of Passage’s fifth) is breathtakingly beautiful. A soft billowing bed of minimalist ambience carries Merz’s golden velvet voice over the nine tracks – each one as mysterious and evocative as the other, all different vignettes of reflective moments with whisper soft vocals delivering the most moving and eloquent lines.

The sonic architecture is dark and Arctic, close and intimate.

Opening track ‘It’s Too Late Now’, has a majestic stillness and indelible atmosphere. Absent of sharp edges such as percussion, and spread delicately over eight minutes, a drone haze creates a dark, brooding, gothic undercurrent while other-wordly sounds hover in the distance. When Merz’s voice enters deep into the the track, it is ghostly, almost whispered, like a gold filigree laid over the top as guitars softly pluck and murmur underneath. This is hypnotising and ethereal. The lyrics are infused with a deep melancholy: we’ve got something in common, we have nothing to say.

‘The Light Became’ has an almost upbeat clip clock rhythm while Merz’s vocals, double, triple tracked with celestial harmonies, are at the fore with the effect of a dreamy fairytale. In contrast, ‘The Creed’ introduces arpeggiated crystalline guitars that circulate underneath a deep, reverberated vocal cloak. A constant drone creates a heavenly vaulted ceiling – high and distant.

‘Worship My Flaws’ with its Celtic strings-like buzz snaking through the mix has almost whispered soft vocals that enchant and mesmerise, imbued with sadness and loss. At times, the grandness and euphoric sweep of Sigur Ros appear – ‘Find Me Another’ with its slightly distorted vocals and instrumental sweep is an example – a brief interlude before ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ with its sense of poignancy and recollection of memories in time.

‘We Fell For The Devil To Rise’ is another extraordinary sonic movement – slightly fuzzy sounds that scratch in the ether while Merz’s whispers softly in your ear like a salve with her poetic delicacy – I was a school, girl I did the work, I was the cattle trampling the dirt, I fell for the story, I fell for the glory I fell for the angels demise, I fell for the devil to rise. Absolutely beautiful.

‘Petite Mort’ with the connotations this evokes is almost acapella: Merz’s voice naked and to the fore above a distant sombre drone.

The album ends with the gentle folk sweep of ‘On Our Hands’ with the distant sounds of nature as Merz sings we have a tree in our garden and a fish in our pond before a heavy distortion sweeps in and blows away the reverie.

‘The Last Garden’ could be construed as a palimpsest for the loss of innocence and paradise lost. It is deeply infused with a sense of loss and mourning, stately and gracefully expressed in a series of gentle movements brought to life by The Birds of Passage’s eloquent and delicate poetry, laid across a carpet of haunting and celestial sounds. You can have an early listen through the link below:

You can pre-order the album through the link below or obtain in a variety of formats through the following links:

· Listen: www.denovali.com/birdsofpassage· Cd+LP: www.denovali.com/store· Download: www.denovali.com/digitalstore· Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3lKHMnb· Apple: https://apple.co/3DQiU3T

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