Harrison Pushes Beyond the Material World on 'Birds, Bees, the Clouds & the Trees'

BY Tom BeedhamPublished Apr 27, 2023

Harrison's third full length introduces itself with a cloud of vinyl crackle and hiss — a language anyone who's dropped the needle on the outer rim of a record will be familiar with — before the twinkling keys and brushed drums that propel "Daydreamin" kick in.

Like its title, there's a crisp, spring-welcoming warmth to the technicolour tones that permeate Birds, Bees, the Clouds & the Trees. But the unmistakable sense of nostalgia that looms over its mellow, piano-driven melodies is always coupled with the underlying threat that turntable tactility could throw the sun-dappled Sunday drive for a loop. 

In press materials for the release, it's explained "Daydreamin" is actually about awakening from the act rather than indulging in it, and as an opening statement, it feels as instructive as it is intentional. The tracks on Birds gesture nostalgically to cartoons and childhood memories, but more specifically, to a lost present sense of newness — an articulation of millennial angst in memory of a time when things still felt novel rather than an endless parade of references. 

It suits the record that on all of the jazzy landscapes that dominate its runtime, an omnipresent dimension of manipulation and influence reveals itself as individual track elements wobble gently out of time, the groove pushing forward and out while remaining down to earth — a forward facing funkadelic logic that yearns for something more.

Inspired by classic Looney Tunes bits, "Cowboys" and its farfisa keys bend and warp with cartoon-like animation. With its repetitive, unadorned piano loops, synth-smeared twinklin, and wrist-flicked snares, "Honey Harbor (Bill's Song)" similarly conjures a memory, here the granite waterfront of the Canadian Shield. Even the features across the producer's tracks feel invested in their environments in ways that feel of different time and place, guests transporting listeners to their surroundings.

The chilled out, wavering boom bap of "Outta This World" has TOBi bouncing between screening texts from unknown numbers and immersing himself in invaluable art; MED & Guilty Simpson roll around blowing smoke and sizing up bi-coastal city streets with the windows down on "Bump"; on "Float," Kadhja Bonet sounds like she's interrogating a supposed lover's (in)ability to pull their weight in the dialectic of romantic consciousness building, cooing diaristically on her prospects, asking, "Why do I tell myself that I could find myself in you?" 

It's a material world, and for Harrison, you have to push the limits working within it to make blue skies reality.
(Last Gang Records), (MNRK Music Group )

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