For nearly two decades Dave Hillary has been running the Edinburgh based Bearsuit Records, an independent label that’s happily associated with weird, peculiar, eclectic and inventive, electronic music, alternative rock and oddball pop music.
Dave Hillary is responsible for much of the labels output. For example Hillary is behind “Eamon The Destroyer,” “Bunny And The Invalid Singers” and the wonderful “Harold Nono.” Who’s “We’re Almost Home” album was a personal, left-field highlight of 2020.
Hillary’s latest character is “Andrei Rikichi” who explodes onto the scene complete with the usual Bearsuit Records Milligan-esque backstory. Rikichi is the son of a Tokyo diplomat, raised in Switzerland and Belgium. He has a BA Honours in Exploding Furniture. He’s a multi instrumentalist, specialising in the three string Zither Pipe and enjoys eating pickles. After playing in various collectives, Andrei Rikichi has completed his first solo album.
The poetically titled “Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness” is a fourteen track album, available on Compact Disc and digitally. Many of the songs run under two minutes in length and the whole album scurries in under half an hour. So “Caged Birds…” sounds pleasurably like a soundtrack to a dark dystopian film.
The music ranges from bombastic explosions in sound to sublime melody filled alternative electro pop, often on the same song.
There’s ethereal voices hidden under industrial, repetitive, drone. There’s ghostly, operatic vocal solos. There’s vocalized mirroring of the synth strings and vocals imitating instruments. There’s electronica and rock drums, distorted, muffled or clipped, sometimes driving the theme, sometimes jolting, juddering and pensive. There’s simple, saccharine melodies, lasting for a few seconds or riding the full two minutes of the song, that lift the emotion and there’s twisted, inky melodies which imply a quickening of step, racing up from behind you. And then there’s the sultry, fuggy ambient soundscapes, coloured liked a nuclear Autumn, hazy and dreamlike, a treat for the headphones listener.
“Caged Birds…” isn’t a score for an unknown arthouse film, but if it was, the soundtrack I would definitely want to watch that film it at the cinema.