The Wooden Birds, v.4.0
New York Times, 9/20/??, Robert Palmer (at the Bottom Line)
Two key members of the original Pere Ubu have joined the group-- Alan Ravenstine, an utterly original synthesizer player whose contributions move the music beyond notes and toward pure sound, and Tony Maimone, a bassist who is both adventurous and solid, and who has a great deal to do with keeping the music together...Mr Thomas isn't just a singer, though he has managed to move his singing closer and closer to speech in an impressively musicianly manner. He is a performer who uses his face, his body, his whole presence to get his songs across... A child's playful use of language and unstructured approach to noise-making is the closest analogue for what Mr Thomas and his band are up to. In the past, Mr Thomas's performances have tended to be a little too determined, evocations of spontaneity rather than the thing itself. But his new band, the Wooden Birds, is able to follow his sing-song cadences and tale-telling while also providing some spine and bottom.
The Accordion Club, v.4.0, with Ira Kaplan & Garo Yellin New York Times, 1/28/93, Ann Powers
"Is it half-empty or half-full?" David Thomas mused from the Knitting Factory stage on Saturday night, holding up a juice pitcher with a single slip of yellow paper inside. The slip indicated the possible number of "happy songs" to be performed this evening; another pitcher overflowed with scraps representing "sad and depressing" selections. A blue night lay ahead...Yet Mr Thomas's question hinted at the double nature of his music, which saves even his most desolate scenarios from mere pathos. His large frame and squeaky tenor single him out as a "figure of fun," as he says in one composition; yet his songs can be heart-wrenching expressions of helplessness and loss... the understated accompaniment by Ira KAplan (the guitarist of the group Yo La Tengo) and Garo Yellin on cello let the subtlety of his art resonate... At the evening's end, the group performed the folk song, "The Sloop John B"... The group's performance drew all the anxious loneliness from the song, which most people presume to be a jaunty sing-along, again proving Mr Thomas's ability to find the haunting secrets within every happy tale.