Tip! *300 copies limited release* Henry Birdsey - best known as one half of the microtonal multi-instrumentalist duo known as Tongue Depressor - is a master of dualities. He writes music that is both fundamental and complex, tranquil and fierce, and conceptual yet familiar all at once. His music often reflects the expansive and isolated regions of his home state of Vermont with its vast natural splendor, both lush and harsh, haunting and entrancing. It is also often about nothing more than the pure spontaneous creation of sound with friends or alone by himself.
On Two Harmonicas for the Jeweler’s Court Birdsey showcases some of his finest solo material to date. Playing nothing but diatonic harmonicas, tuned by flipping the reed plate to produce microtonal frequencies, Birdsey offers compositions that sparkle with harmonic richness and emergent rhythmic structures. Ancient feeling, folkloric, geological, the sound of the universe itself letting out a heavy sigh. Listening to this record one immediately recalls gagaku and bagpipe music of the great highlands (bagpipes incidentally being an instrument that Birdsey has picked up in recent years). It is as mesmerizing and remarkable as anything we’ve heard from him.
Birdsey’s musical output is prolific and varied. From his work in Tongue Depressor with Zach Rowden, recent collaborations with Weston Olencki and Max Eilbacher, to his growing resume of solo microtonal and just intoned outings on lapsteel, orchestral bells, Rhodes piano, etc... those who have gotten to know Birdsey through his music know that he is a deep listener and a nuanced player. Birdsey’s sound is never static or harsh, even at its most stark and dissonant. The textures conjured and formed here are receptive, reticulated, and somehow strangely soothing.