The fourth installment from the Birds Of A Feather series offers more narrative and ominous sounds than any of the previous records. Marcus Fischer is a wizard of pairing treated and processed guitar with field recordings and homemade instruments, and here his delicate textures accompany one of the more notorious birds in the world.
Crows are ubiquitous, yet do not share the dignified reputation afforded their larger cousin, the raven. Common in cities, their raucous cacophony reeks of pillaging and opportunism; sentries at the landfill; the avian world’s pack of hyenas. But look one in the eye on its own, and you can see how intelligent these birds are, how they are the culmination of millions of years of survival tactics and guts. Few birds are more opportunistic. It’s a quality we humans certainly respect, and it’s likely a reason we have a bit of caution in their presence. Many a proverb and indigenous myth call upon the crow for inspiration. Fischer’s piece is not an indictment. Nay, it is romantic, placing the crow in a realm of grace, occasionally appreciated by comments from his young son.
Fischer recorded this piece at his home in Portland, OR where a family of crows have enjoyed a residence for some time. Their relationship with the Fischer family is rich enough that the humans understand when the crows are calling for food. It would only make sense that when asked to create music for this series, Fischer would choose the birds he practically lives with. (Did he request their permission?) Along with tasteful placements of the familiar caws, leaves are moved by the wind, and a contemplative fellow plays a brightly toned guitar. Slow and inspired, Fischer’s technique is akin to a perfect dream.
The peaceful mood hints at an overcast summer day, and you can see a tired father meditating at a playground. Hearing a child speak while a crow calls from a nearby roost places the bird in a positive light. Parents know that any crow visiting children outside is just waiting for the little guys to abandon their ham and cheese croissant in the open. In a way, children are a major factor in city crows’ survival. And through a child’s eyes, the black avian dinosaur perched above is a magnificent and mysterious creature. The hushed chords and ebbing ambiance supports this state of wonder in the crow’s presence.
The timbre is dreamy and melancholic, and it is meant to support a moment of stillness and solitude. Marcus Fischer is a dreamlord on the guitar, weaving lines like trees reaching for the sky. The hustle and bustle we often associate city crows with is dissolved with a setting sun, and we are able to enjoy the birds in a calm and natural setting (other birds can be heard in the recording as well). Fischer’s Crow is twenty minutes well spent and perhaps the most complete piece in the series for Flaming Pines. (Nayt Keane)