Ardath by Birth Day

By: Derek Spencer

Ardath is as elusive an album title as I have encountered. A smattering of google searches reveals a British tobacco company as the only catalogued namesake, implying that Ardath is an album named either for it’s destructive and addictive qualities, or otherwise as reference to something personal and decidedly unobtainable. The impalpable name suits the 5-track EP all the same, perhaps augmenting the conceit of mysterious dystopia that LA-based musician Birth Day seems intent on summoning. Deconstructed pop pairs with discordant ambient on Birth Day’s unsettling 2016 debut.

Opener “Link’d” best demonstrates Birth Day’s palette, consisting of icy dissonance, glitched-out synths, and phantasmal filtered-vocals. Tension builds as the voice of yesterday’s fallen popstar rises in classic zombie fashion. On “Bedroom Jester”, Birth Day continues to play with distance and depth, as a single alto melody gives way to the croons of dozens of fettered specters, each presumably a fractured bit of singer/producer Sonya Lanelle Chávez.

The percussive elements of Ardath leave enough propulsion for listeners to dance, but only in the way that dancing can be a mental exercise: a way of answering a question or exploring a thought. With tracks like “blind” and “Seashore”, each clocking in around one minute and devoid of distinct rhythmic features, it’s easier to think of Birth Day as walking us through a process or along a path, as opposed to imagining that Chávez’s vision lies in any one place for long.

Demonstrating a surprising command over dynamics and composition, Birth Day will hopefully have the opportunity to flesh out her work on longer, more immersive releases. For now, Ardath serves as a seductive taste-test, successfully tempting listeners toward some unknown end.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Incrdibly Kind Toward Animals by Miroki

Nostalgia for early 2000’s pop-punk pairs off with contemporary indie-pop in Miroki’s 2015 debut EP, Incredibly Kind Toward Animals.  Fueled by Adam Hutnik & John McGuire (of Westbrook Drive fame), Miroki is an effective refocusing of previous musical efforts, drawing on a deeper well of lyrical motifs and a disinclination toward hook-driven songwriting.

McGuire & Hutnik are at their best vocally when singing in harmony or octave,  demonstrated on the EP’s final track, Benny.   At times, Miroki can veer into lethargic, nasal-heavy delivery, in no small way reminiscent of Mark Hoppus and Billie Joe Armstrong.  Still, the cleanly toned guitars and minimal use of power chords save this similarity from being outright reference.

Centered around themes of anxiety and self-criticism, the lyrical content manages to exude accessibility and originality.  While by no means Pulitzer-worthy, Miroki manages to avoid the cringe-worth cliches that frequently degrade the genre.

With this premire release hot off the press, plan on seeing Miroki hitting the Chicagoland scene this year.