Birds Through Fire


An Englishman, an American and an Australian walk into a virtual recording studio. In each individual, a shared idea stirs many emotions. Across the long distances common interests are discovered; favourite music, intellectual movements of the 20th century, the visual arts, literature, history, film, design, kids, nature, riddles of existence, the unfathomable questing character of love. Romanticism with a Dadaist sensibility. 


From the blue of the oceans that separate them, the forward-looking idea emerges of using the Internet as a collaborative tool. Early experiments are made, files uploaded, files downloaded, worked upon, recordings made, and in the process transforming events occurred. The three begin to bond by sharing their thoughts and ideas; not just musical ideas but also thoughts touching on books, inspirations, daily musings, meteorological observations of simultaneous moments in northern hemisphere-southern hemisphere... and of course and always, the occasional joke. This bonding fosters a free flowing exchange of musical cells and a deeper understanding begins to develop which touches on the directions the "band" could take... and the potential for the making of a new album. Birds Through Fire is born.


Paul Smyth ( The Englishman ) and Paul Cartwright ( The Australian ) met in Adelaide, South Australia in the late 90's through a common interest in music, art and the way that both these cultures were represented in Australia, or indeed what was lacking in the southern landscape. 


With these interests, they decided to form the duo Avida Dollars ( an anagram Andre Breton used for Surrealist painter Salvador Dali meaning " Eager For Dollars "). The two spent the first few years writing and recording in Smyth's studio " Nero's Bunker " and digitally releasing one album " Start Ups and Break Downs " in 2003. However both Paul's said farewell to Adelaide, with Smyth moving to Sydney and Cartwright to Melbourne in early 2004.


Fast forward to 2010. It was announced that former Japan bassist Mick Karn was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Both Smyth and Cartwright being great admirers of Karn's work, were deeply affected by this news, and set about writing a piece with Karn in mind. Cartwright explains " Being so far away from Europe, and hearing that news made us feel very distant and we wanted to do more than just sit back and monitor the information that came to us via the internet. We wanted to be pro-active. It was a way for us to turn a negative into a positive ". 


With fellow musician / programmer Ian Vaughan, the trio put together a musical sketch that developed into the track " A Portrait Of Amber ". " Ian provided the initial drum patterns that I based my bass parts on ". Cartwright explains. " We were all in different cities, so we would email small fragments of musical idea's to Paul in Sydney, and he assembled the piece that became the basic demo ".


During that time, they formed a friendship with UK bassist Matthew Seligman ( Thomas Dolby, David Bowie, Morrissey etc ). After hearing the sketch, it was at Seligman's suggestion that a vocal be added. and the search was on for someone who could that take the track to the next level…..enter ( The American :)


The final piece in the formation of Birds Through Fire came into play when Cartwright contacted guitarist David Torn, who too had worked with Mick Karn. It was Torn that suggested he contact Robby Aceto ( The American ). 


Robby is a guitarist / multi-instrumentalist / singer / composer, who has worked with artists such as Tom Tom Club, Cloud Chamber Orchestra, Talking Heads, David Sylvian and JBK ( Japan members Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn ). 


Excited by the end results of " A Portrait of Amber ", The three musicians decided that the project should result in an album which the process would be as follows; 


Paul Cartwright would make some song sketches and pass them on to Paul Smyth who in turn would through copious processing and synthetic overdubbing would convert the sketches into moods to facilitate further inspiration. A rough mix would then be passed to Robby and Paul Cartwright for comment and once all parties were satisfied, stems* would be sent to Robby. Robby would then rearrange the mix where necessary and overdub vocal and other instrumental parts. as you can see, a true musical troika. All this was possible thanks to products like DropBox.


We are confident that the material Birds Through Fire release will be a result of all our interactions and despite having never met in a studio together the work will become the product of three creative minds working as one.