Published Apr 19, 2007Working with a band isnt new for Andrew Bird, but after touring the world as a genuine one-man spectacle, hes mastering the balance between the subtlety of solitude and the brash lift of camaraderie. After leading his retro-swing outfit Bowl of Fire, the classically trained Bird flew solo, creating an odd pop amalgam of old-world sounds with contemporary tension. His formidable attributes include an unearthly ability to warble, visionary skill at transforming his single violin into a majestic string section via looping, playing glockenspiel and singing. Birds arsenal is still present on Armchair Apocrypha and as with Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs, his group work is interesting. Birds recent experiment with playing guitar provides more crunch, and songs like "Imitosis and "Plasticities benefit from dynamic arrangements and a strong rhythm section. Theres a worldly indignation circulating within "Fiery Crash, and "Heretics smacks of the smarty-pants snootiness of Stephen Malkmus but theres also youthful exuberance in "Darkmatter, which screams forward like My Morning Jacket. The music is lush yet Birds voice is in focus, which is appropriate because, in terms of contemporary pop artists, hes all on his own.
Hows this record different for you?
Every time you go into the studio and youre singing by yourself, you start playing the microphone like an instrument. It makes you sing more intimately and can sound a bit precious to me. When I sing live I try to fill every corner of the room, and I went for that. I didnt plan to make a bigger, louder record but thats the way it wanted to go.
I have a very particular way I want the bass to sound. I really like the textures of dub, so I spend more energy on the bass than I do the violin. In terms of strings, it comes down to whether we want to loop or multi-track them. In this case, we went with looping, which is truer to the way we play.
The lyrics are vivid
When I was a kid, I was into ancient history. I liked to imagine being there and the stories that would unfold. I would play the movie in my head and it would totally entertain me. With science, I liked the big picture questions the pop science that wasnt academic. The last record was clearly more focused on my youth; this one has a more wide-angle view of things. (Fat Possum)