‘Birds in the Night’ a solid debut from indie artist
Benjamin Cissner’s presence in the realm of of the American indie music scene isn’t new, though ‘Birds in the Night’ is his debut release. He recorded a few album with Windsor for the Derby, and has also been involved with names like VietNam and Sub Pop Records’ Tiny Vipers, over the past decade or so. Now, he’s living in the middle of the continuously and famously growing scene of independent musicians and bands, down in Austin, TX, for the last few years.
Benjamin Cissner is a musician whose musical aspirations have taken him all over the U.S. and around the world. He’s got a profound love for music and it absolutely comes through in the music that he makes. Unfortunately, in order for Benjamin to realize his creative vision into something tangible for the public to enjoy, he was forced to sell off a huge part of his record collection. But that sacrifice meant that he could record his debut LP, ‘Birds in the Night’, with complete independence and creative control, which he did, entirely. There wasn’t a label to tell him what sound to go for or to impose stressful deadlines on the process. His freedom to be his own artist really helped him to write and record an album that is very much a true ‘artistic roots’ kind of release. His material has been compared to some of the greatest singer/songwriters, like Harry Nilsson and, one of Benjamin’s personal absolute favorites, Townes Van Zandt. Those comparisons aren’t off either. The songs on ‘Birds in the Night’ have some really sophisticated arrangements and the structures within the songs are built with skill. They have fluidity and melodies that have a tendency to flow without seams, much of the time. The compositions are as effortless as they are strong, and their presences vary nicely, which staves off any mundanity or boredom for the listener. There’s a very interesting psychedelia quality to many of the tracks. Though the inherent lo-fi nature of the recordings can have, at times, a subtle eeriness, as with “Division”–which opens the record–and “Follow You Down,” for example, there can also be lighter, more whimsical moments in the album, like “Chippy’s Lament.” Like any genuinely great album, the sounds and moods created on ‘Birds in the Night’ can be just as vivid as as they can be subtle. It’s a well-balanced record that plays as if had naturally materialized and developed, rather than a collection of good songs strategically assembled for maximum effectiveness.
With equal ability to appeal to an Americana roots, ‘Mountain Stage’ sort of audience and that of a hip, , artistic, indie fringe scene, ‘Birds in the Night’ should have no problem finding itself an audience that will continue to grow, for years to come, due to its innate timeless sound. Amidst of all of the famous creativity that surrounds Benjamin Cissner his debut release, ‘Birds in the Night’, stands out and shines like a big, bright star in the constellation of Austin, Texas.