Birdwatching on Garbage Island

by The Burning Hell

  • 10" lathe-cut; edition of 77
    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Attention record collectors, ornithologists, concerned citizens, and fellow nerds:

    77 copies of this four-song EP about birds, garbage, love, the future, and the movie Waterworld were lathe-cut at 3.45RPM in Brighton, packaged with a risograph print by Ariel Sharratt, and shipped out to 77 new homes in May 2019. There aren't any more copies of it, and there aren't likely to be.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Birdwatching on Garbage Island via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

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We recorded this EP in St. John's at Jake Nicoll's studio in the very first days of 2019.


released April 15, 2019

Mathias Kom - songwriting, singing, guitaring
Ariel Sharratt - drumming, drum-machining, clarineting, singing
Darren Browne - bassing, bouzouki-ing, guitaring
Jake Nicoll - recording, producing, drumming, singing, synthing


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The Burning Hell

The Burning Hell is the alter-ego of Canadian songwriter Mathias Kom, and consists of him plus Ariel Sharratt (clarinet), Nick Ferrio (bass), and Darren Browne (guitar).


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Track Name: Nigel the Gannet
They’ve all been making plans for Nigel
And by “they” I mean the ornithologists
They live in houses made of bricks and glass
Nigel lives alone at the edge of a cliff

The bird-banders fill binders and books with his biography
They note his habits and record his squawks on dictaphones
Meanwhile Nigel wonders “why don’t they ever ask me?
I could tell them there’s a difference
Between being lonely and being alone.”

The scientists published papers and secured some grants
To repopulate Nigel’s future neighbourhood
With a concrete caster named Carl they concocted a plan
But they couldn’t have predicted Nigel’s commitment to bachelorhood

Called to the concrete colony by a cassette
Nigel noticed the other birds didn’t fly or flap around
He remembered an old French peacock had told him “hell is other birds”
He thought “well, this is just the kind of place I’d like to settle down!”

Nigel, he felt badly for the dumb scientists
Himself, he was no bird-brain, and his heart was huge
So he chose a concrete mate and he built her a nest
He figured it was what they wanted him to do

Nigel did most of the talking, but he was used to that
Usually they just sat there and stared out to sea
When he died, they gathered, and Carl carved his tiny tombstone’s epitaph:
Here lies Nigel the Gannet: alone but never lonely
Track Name: Bird Queen of Garbage Island
I dream in oily fluorescent swirls, I speak in plastic
My wardrobe is nylon and PVC, my band is elastic
It’s hard to find decent drumsticks, but we’ve got bird bones and bits of buckets
And my drummer can hit she can really raise a ruckus
What’s this crystalline crunching beneath my feet?
It’s just hundreds of fragile skulls of penguins and parakeets
Some died miles away and flotsamed here, some expired through violence
And when I say violence I mean I am the Bird Queen of Garbage Island

What’s up with the duck with the plastic quack?
(35 North 135 West)
Who’s the little girl with the map on her back?
(42 North 155 West)
Ask the macaque, ask the leatherback:
(Polyethylene feathers and a high-vis vest)
I am the Bird Queen of Garbage Island

Gannets and gulls, petrels, puffins and pelicans,
Make me a temple of nets and fish skeletons
Next take the buoys, bottles, dongles and ping pong balls
Build a wall all along the horizon and ten times as tall
I lost an eye to an albatross with mischief in his heart
But I replaced it with this ball-bearing painted to look the part
I’m a leader with a singular vision, or if you prefer, a cyclops tyrant
All hail the Bird Queen of Garbage Island

What’s up with the duck with the plastic quack?
(35 North 135 West)
Who’s the little girl with the map on her back?
(42 North 155 West)
Ask the macaque, ask the leatherback:
(Polyethylene feathers and a high-vis vest)
I am the Bird Queen of Garbage Island
Track Name: Birdwatching
Tragedy minus glory equals just another story
Like the prisoners who stayed behind in Plato’s allegory
Or the poor forgotten second-last passenger pigeon
Anyone can fail but truly losing takes ambition

I’m suspicious of ambitious folks, but I’ll race you to the bottom
Where the clocks don’t tick or tock and you can smoke ‘em if you got ‘em
Carpe-ing every diem’s no achievement, it’s exhausting
If you need me I’ll be sitting over here, birdwatching

I’ve read the The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective People
I know I’m probably the liver, not Prometheus or the eagle
But I’d rather be a giver than a taker or a faker
everybody’s just another paycheque to the undertaker

I have an allergy to strategy and inspirational quotations
My reaction’s anaphylactic to vocations or to nations
I’m digging moats and burning flags and bridges just as a precaution
If you need me I’ll be sitting on this island, birdwatching

There’s a flower in the compost and a beach below the pavement
We’ll outlive the rich and famous if we remain aimless and patient
Neither rising like a phoenix nor are we dying like the dodos
So let’s leave the endless questing to the Sams and and to the Frodos

Anthems are anathema, enough with rousing choruses
And achieving is as torturous as tickling slow lorises
The search for more and better gives us worse and fewer options
So let’s quit while we’re behind, and do some birdwatching

Entrepreneurship is capsizing and it will surely sink
Jump and swim to Garbage Island and just sit and have a drink
While everybody else is busy polishing their coffins
We’ll be mixing cosmopolitans, and birdwatching
Track Name: Twinkle Twankle
I wish I could take you shopping
And watch you try new glasses on
We could eat something in a food court
At your favourite restaurant
I could compliment your haircut
And I could compliment your jokes
You could invite me to Thanksgiving
So you could finally meet my folks

And you would warn me not to worry
If your dad seemed unimpressed
Because he’s always unimpressed
He’s literally always unimpressed
And after dinner at your parents
We could sit out in the backyard
Just you and me in plastic deck chairs
Making names up for the stars

That one up there could be called Carlos
That other one could be called Steve
And I could kiss you on your moustache
And I could kiss you on your cheek
And the stars would twinkle twankle
In the black eyeballs of a bird
Sitting silent on a fencepost
Staring at us unobserved

And all our lives would be contained
In the vision of this gull
He would fly into the future
And we would turn to bones and skulls
Now he visits us and numbers
All the things we never did
His unblinking eye shows us the details
Of the lives we never lived

Sitting here on Garbage Island
There are no food courts, no Thanksgiving
Though that’s no way to measure
A decent standard of living
So I wish I could take you shopping
And watch you try new glasses on
But you’ll have to settle for this fishnet
And half a plastic leprechaun

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