A dark and beautiful work, Black Leather Birds explore the shadows with “The Color of Memory”. Without needing to say a single word an entire narrative emerges from these instrumental. The hint of the cinematic propels them forward, for they have a great heaviness to them. Nods to classical, art rock, metal, and more ensure that the entirety of the atmosphere feels supersaturated. Quite easy to get lost in, the exquisite detail brought into the mix results in a disorienting experience.
Black Leather Birds have an industrial aesthetic for certain, and the influence of Trent Reznor’s soundtrack work (particularly with his Ghosts series) proves to be a major touchstone for the sound. There is a playfulness to it and an inherent rage that helps to tie the whole of the work together, like Mr. Bungle having a bad day. Vast jumps from genre to genre even within the same song point to this highly unpredictable experience. Small flourishes matter a great deal for Black Leather Birds explores the very soul of the hard-edged sound, occasionally revealing softer undertones that have a bit of tenderness behind them.
Nowhere is this best exemplified, this duality, more than on the opening track “Our Angry Science”. Within this piece they have intense raging riffs alongside making nice moments, where the sound melts away to reveal a quite pretty childlike melody. On a delicate note comes the intimacy of “Four Walls Remember”. Fragile gestures are accompanied by various found sounds, as if the music is being conjured up from memories. A neat trick for certain, the song gains an emotional poignancy from this rather low-key yet inspired approach. Multiple seasons come into view on the cyclical mix of “Perchance to Dream”. From here they bring in sun-drenched springtime atmospheres to ice-cold brutal hits of intense winter.
Woozy sounds bounce off the walls on the spacious “Everyone’s Died”. Full of dread and anxiety, the screams off in the distance have a harshness to them, for the guitar work has a raw bloody grit to it. A hip-hop cadence enters in with “Through the Pearly Whites”. Tempos shift wildly, from elements of hardcore punk, to industrial, to dance, never neatly settling into a single one. “One More for the Road” brings things to a close on the typewriter meets piano grooves, remaining completely uneasy.
“The Color of Memory” shows off Black Leather Birds’ uncanny ability to craft an aural universe that feels distinctly their own.