Birdstriking’s self-titled debut album was recorded in January of 2011 by Yan Haisong, leader of one of China’s most esteemed art rock bands PK14. The contents of Birdstriking draw strongly on the spirit of Beijing’s vibrant post-punk scene and the influence of bands like Carsick Cars, PK 14, and Ourself Beside Me are clear throughout. The song Monkey Snake in particular features the hallmark elements of Beijing post-punk: verses are driven by rhythmic lyrical lines and raucous shouted choruses and the dynamic interplay between soft and gentle guitar melodies and loud wall-of-sound full-chord riffs.
The quality and level of sophistication in songwriting on this album is particularly remarkable given that the members of Birdstriking were young (19 to 21) at the time of recording. Birdstriking is an intimate and deeply introspective reflection on the ambiguities of youth and the imaginative period of vast possibility and existential crises that occur as one leaves teenage angst behind and enters young adulthood. Contemplation in songs like Magpie, in particular, exemplify this youthful theme: the magpie wants to create a nest with branches / A nest called the free world / It also knows / The branches were crushed by the blind crowd.
Birdstriking first took to the stage emulating the sound and styles of their local heroes as well as revered punk and post-punk bands like Television, Sonic Youth, and Talking Heads. However, they quickly found their own footing driven by leader and songwriter He Fan, and their music took on its own color and place in the Beijing scene. The final four songs of the album function almost as an extended suite, and set Birdstriking apart as a unique voice within the scene. Untitled 512 begins the suite with an exploration of drone and noise music, crescendoing gracefully into the 7-minute long psychedelic-style No More Rock n’ Roll which draws attention to the vibrant textures and precise, simple melodic ideas in He Fan’s guitar work. The album culminates with the One Thousand Dreams and In My Wings further blending elements of the previous two songs with repetitive vocal lines that affect an unsettling sensation.