Bath-based synth-pop duo Jamie Bird and Andy Gladwell first formed their Bird Noire partnership in 2014 after both had spent years in the music business as session musicians and had become disenchanted with the music industry. If last year’s bedroom-produced debut ‘101’ EP saw Bird Noire emerging tentatively at first, then this follow-up EP ‘103 Interludes’ sees the production values on these eight tracks taking a substantial step up, allowing the more widescreen qualities of their emotional, synth-driven tracks to shine properly.
Opening track ‘Forever Now’ calls to mind classic New Wave pop ghosts such as Depeche Mode and Erasure in its earnestly swelling vocal hooks, but in this case the gleaming sense of sheen is balanced out by the dusty drum grooves and and faded analogue synths that lurk in the foreground, lending things a curiously proggy alt-country edge. If anything, it’s something of a false start, offering a considerably warmer opening than the stark synthscapes that follow it.
‘I’ takes things off on a two-minute instrumental wander through the kind of dark airbrushed eighties-centric electronics that coloured the ‘Drive’ soundtrack as an emotive synth solo spirals out against a backdrop of brooding bass pads in an offering that evokes John Carpenter more than anything else, before ‘IV’ offers a sparsely brittle ambient segue that sees gritty reverberating textures suggesting a post-industrial feel as they arc off into the darkness.
Elsewhere, ‘Reunion’ reaches out into the sort of dark synthetic opulence seen on ‘Music For The Masses’-era Depeche Mode as Bird’s clear vocals soar over a backdrop of majestic layered synth arrangements, growling bass drops and minimalist electro rhythms. It’s exactly these sorts of darkly cinematic undertones that make this ambitious EP so fascinating, and hopefully we’ll be hearing more of them from Bird Noire in the future.