If you’ve never heard of Bird’s Eye Batang, then you may be familiar with the South Korean artist’s other moniker, Mid-Air Thief, who’s 2018 album “Crumbling” has been getting more and more attention as of late. If you aren’t familiar with either of them, then get ready for a folktronica sound you’ve never heard before.
“Flood Format,” which released earlier this year, is far less folk- and far more -tronica, but still sits within the outskirts of the genre. It doesn’t reach the deeply organic and transcendent breadths of “Crumbling,” but it succeeds in exploring darker, more alien territory, with a signature maximalist sound.
The first track, “Slippery Smile”, has these jubilant, joyous and bouncy chimes that remind me of the vibrant buildups you’d hear in a Stevie Wonder song. It then slips into something more fluid and abstract as it transitions to the second track, where the melodies are still bright, but harsher. It leads into sections of experimental noise before circling back around to the lead melody.
The third track, “Spin and Stone”, feels mysterious and curious, and as it starts to pick up it, feels like you’re being swept into an entirely different world. The picture below is the closest image I can find that looks like how this song feels.
“Ripplippling” is a sort of chillwave track with its wide, filtering synths and echoing bells, but with far more texture and character than most chillwave I’ve come across. On its own, “Ripplippling” is the most digestible track on this album.
Unfortunately it’s cut a bit short by an interlude, which showcases some brilliant sound design and noises that are most likely from a bird. This is the worst track on the album for me but it’s less than a minute long.
The album then transitions to its darkest portion. “Brux Batang” features discordant sounds layered over a techno beat before suddenly enveloping the listener in a suffocating symphony of dying machines, noise being stretched and warped around you, a complete storm, pulled and worn like taffy, ending in a crumpled heap.
“The Wider The Wheel” feels like a rush, a need to escape, hurrying past all these sights and sounds, not able to fully process any of them, letting them penetrate your conscious before promptly leaving. You escape. You are faced with an enormous empty void.
And the final song, with a light samba swing, is a much needed breath of comfortable relief.
“Flood Format” is a journey. Bird Eye Batang continues the legacy of one of the most intricate musicians working today, and hopefully now people will shut up and stop comparing him to Grizzly Bear.
I give Bird Eye Batang’s “Flood Format” ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆. Great Album.
– Spencer Grattan