BirdPen: In The Company Of Imaginary Friends

Ambient soundscapes from the Archive man’s other side project.

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BirdPen is the brainchild of Mike Bird and Archive’s Dave Pen (see what they did there?) and their third album is a challenging listen.

The pair opt for the carefully textured and atmospheric approach achieved by building layers of music in the studio, so this certainly isn’t an album for those craving a quick-fix of the dramatic crescendo, having more in common with Radiohead or Spirit In Eden-era Talk Talk. Everything is gently paced and leaning toward the ambient, but the composition and detail of this music is, at times, astonishing. The songs come and go as parts of a whole which will, if you allow it, envelop you in its seeping atmosphere. The standout, nine-minute No Place Like Drone ebbs and flows, and encapsulates the album in microcosm. As with Dave Pen’s other, concurrent project We Are Bodies, you won’t get the best out of this by listening on the go, but in the right environment these intricate sound strata – constructed and deconstructed in a seamless flow – will hypnotise and entrance you. BirdPen have not delivered an album for the masses here, but for the right ears In The Company Of Imaginary Friends is a truly remarkable work. Surrender to it.