Birdengine. The name conjures up one of Jan Svankmajer's animated, nightmarish fairy tales; some fragile gothic contraption of bones and wires, of greasy feathers and rusty hinges. An unnatural, not to say unwholesome, hybrid of artifice and nature, designed for flight but jerkily erratic, both antiquated and impossibly fantastic at the same time. A tiny machine with a sickening, beating heart.
Birdengine is the musical guise of Dorset-born, Brighton-based Lawrie Joseph Tilbury, a singer-songwriter whose innovative approach is both explorative and experimental with haunting melodies and dark lyrics that take the listener to another realm. Tilbury’s beautiful and somewhat strange soothing bass-baritone vocals enhance the eerie, unsettling quality of the songs and variously been described as “beautiful, backwards weirdness”.
Two EPs of early work were described by Stylus magazine as “The first relevant work of freak folktronica” where tiny kings are trapped in glass jars and dead mermaids litter the shores.
His music is unashamedly Outsider Music, riddled with themes of alienation and a sense of not belonging; an outcast even among the freaks. It's a dark carnival moving on creaking wheels through the back roads and country lanes at midnight, along the Lovecraftian boundaries of dream and reality.
And while Birdengine's songs superficially resemble the parched gothic storytelling of The Handsome Family or Will Oldham, Tilbury is actually closer to a feral child of Comus and Tiny Tim, as much showbiz oddity as a witch-starred changeling. Haunted, dry-ditch dirges mix with soaring melodies that recall Radiohead or Muse, though without any of the bombastic rock sensibilities that would suggest.