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Birthgiving Toad

For Awkward Company

Review by Gary Hill

This disc is certainly not for everyone. It’s weird blend of noisy sounds and strangely processed vocals is far from mainstream music. However, this is an exceptionally creative and captivating album. It shows that this group can take sounds that are decidedly left of center and make them work in a way that somehow comes across as accessible. The most obvious comparisons here are to King’s X and King Crimson, but there are other things to be heard, too.

If there’s a weakness to this disc it is the fact that the music presented here is decidedly too “out there” for a lot of people. That said, though, it’s also a real strength of the album. This is music with links to other sounds, but overall an extremely original sound. Those who like creative music will find this very appealing.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review

There’s almost a Beatles-like air to this as it enters. The hard-edged music has bits of modern King Crimson built in along with a lot of King’s X. They take it through some more traditional progressive rock changes with modern sounds.

No. 2

The keyboards that bring this in call to mind Pentwater, but also Emerson Lake and Palmer quite a bit. There is a fusion element added to the mix later and this is quite an intriguing jam that works through a number of changes and alterations. Some of the guitar soloing calls to mind Robert Fripp and the vocals are again along the lines of King’s X. Later they take it into an exploration that could best be described as “delicious noise.” It has some space elements as that part continues.

Tiny Rocker

A heavy sound, rather like modern King Crimson brings this into being. From there it takes on sounds like King’s X, but overall this is an extremely original sounding jam that works extremely well.

The Aforementioned Village

King Crimson (with both modern KC sounds and musical visions along the lines of the Red era) are the most obvious references on this cut. It works out towards something a little closer to jam band music at points, though. The first couple minutes are strictly instrumental and even when the vocals do emerge they are spoken at first. There are some non-lyrical sung vocals on the closing movement.

Drop Inside

This is an extremely brief cut based on acoustic guitar dominated melody and some more King’s X like vocals.

Getting Vivid

Noisy and yet tasty, this piece delivers sounds that run the spectrum from King Crimson-like to closer to RIO. It’s heavy and yet features horns. The vocals have a great echoey, distant element and are mostly spoken. This is a track that is somehow jarring and startling, but still manages to be quite accessible. There’s a jam later that’s almost in keeping with a big band goes funk sound at times. It’s certainly more melodic than a lot of the music leading up to it.

Han, som hun var ude at bo i skyen

This is definitely the weirdest cut on show. It’s got vocals that feel backwards. The singer seems to have trouble refraining from laughing. There are Eastern tones to the vocals at times. The accompanying music is more noise than music. This is a short piece that’s just plain strange. If the whole disc were like this it would be a problem. One short cut, though, serves as a quick oddity.

The Hill

Tasty classic rock blends with King Crimson-like sounds. The verse is essentially just a killer bass line wandering in the background as the vocals weave over the top. The chorus section is filled with additional layers of sound and this is a strange, but extremely meaty track with a lot of charm. We get some great jazz meets blues sounds later in the instrumental break. The ending section is heralded by noise building upward.

(You Caught Me) Smilin'

Echoey vocals are delivered over the top of a noisy, psychedelic jam. This Sly and the Family Stone cover is fairly short and features one main vocal section followed by a guitar solo. As it returns to the vocals it fades away.

Eyes Fixed Ahead
Noise meets King Crimson-like sounds and a killer groove on this tasty bit of strangeness. The vocals have a King’s X-like texture. It gets pretty heavy at times, but jazz like melody over the top tempers that element.
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