Bonky Bird is a child's toy: egg shaped with a protruding nose, measuring in at 5 or 6, maybe 7 inches in height, a full grip around, even for an adult. Bonky Bird balances upright by means of some internal weight system, a heave perhaps for an infant but not much of a strain for anyone that is able to comfortably lift a can of soda. A gentle nudge will set him rocking in any and every direction. Bonky Bird is capable of effortless 360º motion. Even a more forceful nudge will not lay him flat but will rather result in more violent and unpredictable rocking - Bonky Bird is incapable of falling over save for the most pointed efforts of more spirited children who may yet find themselves met with unrequited ambitions at the mercy of Bonky's weighted bottom. But before you hastily judge such spirited children, you must first take into account the whole of Bonky Bird and the sonic temptation inherent in his existence that lies (literally) within him. Inside of Bonky Bird are bells. Evidently several or perhaps just one with several means of ringing it. His egg-shaped, gravity-defying form was engineered so that when set in motion a sustained a chorus of bells and ringing would meet the delight of curious children. And curious adults.
I am told that as a very young child most of my time spent with Bonky Bird was in a futile attempt to extract sustenance from his peculiar nose... apparently this resulted in a kind of mindless gumming. Since those days, my interest in Bonky Bird has changed considerably. Of course, I am still very interested in him, but more for the noises he makes than for the allure of his nose.
About one year ago, I began a project with Patrick J. Crowley, the lead singer and song-writer of the Burlington based band Deep River Saints. Patrick had just over a dozen songs ready to go and he asked me to record, produce, and mix an album - naturally, having known Patrick for the vast majority of my life, I agreed to do it with the concession that I could take as long as I reasonably needed and that I would be permitted wide reaching creative input. Patrick agreed and, from what I can tell, has been aligned with my aesthetic choices and general approach. The process has been one of mutual discovery and creation.
I am pre-disposed to add lots of guitar playing and other guitar-related sounds which I have done in abundance. I picked up a new Fender Vibrasonic to lend a new sound (new for me) to the project - experiments with slides, marbles, magnets, and whatever other means of extracting sound from the electric and acoustic guitar that I could think of. Manipulation of these sounds singly and in combination offers yet another palette to the sonic toolkit - gates, delays, filters, tape effects - But this is a subject for another day. Today is about Bonky Bird.
I wanted this album to be unique and to have a sort of aural completeness. I wanted the listener to sense that every sound had emerged from an elctrified sonic goo. I wanted this aural ooze to coalesce into a singular image: related elements, many characters, but one family tree. I wanted the listener to feel that while the sounds themselves had evolved and differentiated in form from the goo from which they had arisen, they nonetheless shared a common ancestor. I wanted the ancestry to be felt, not heard explicitly: more visceral than cognitive. Enlightened ears would realize the apparent differentiation of the sounds from their common source, sounds betrayed by their own DNA - the illusion of the many collapsing into the truth of the one. Or such was my plan, so I wanted the listener to feel.
I wanted this album to be tactile. And what better way to bring a bit of sensory awareness than via Bonky Bird. The title of the album is "For Posterity", another affirmation of Bonky's appearance. Toy piano, percussive kitchenware, spring peepers, vestiges of youth all heard on the album and all comfortably settling under the "Posterity" heading. In looking back on my life, I can think of no better way to celebrate my past than by encapsulating my present spirit in this work and by making an album with a childhood friend of years and with a toy from my infancy.
Here is a brief audio clip of the sounds Bonky Bird produces. It was recorded in stereo to surprising effect with two ribbon mics and a touch of added reverb for ambiance:
Here is a brief video of Patrick and Bonky Bird in session. He was very gentle with him and claimed that Bonky Bird produced the best sound when nudged just a little bit. Notice how intent he is:
More on Deep River Saints at deepriversaints.com