FROM A COMPOUND EYE
By Bryan Seitz
Robert Pollard, former front-man to Guided By Voices, decided to throw
the switch on GBV; announcing and playing their final Electrifying
Conclusion Tour in 2004. Feeling the need to challenge himself as a songwriter,
Robert Pollard would soon launch his own solo music career. It has been
common knowledge among the GBV fan base that Robert Pollard had finished
his first post GBV project at the end of 2004, a double LP originally
titled American Superdream Wow, sending Pollard shopping for
a label to promote and release the album.
With the New Year came legions of Guided By Voices fans without the musical
crutch they had been leaning on for so long, and a change in the working
title of Robert Pollards first solo album; Out with American Superdream
Wow, and in with From a Compound Eye. Why the title-change?
Is it still a double LP? What label will it be on, and when will it be
released? The questions surrounding the album only made the anticipation
greater. The answers would soon come in the form of a completed album
leaked from Robert Pollard to his hardcore fan-base.
From a Compound Eye was given to a handful of members on the Disarm the
Settlers (GBV message board) and the Postal Blowfish community (GBV list-server).
The buzz about the album increased and it quickly spread throughout myriad
underground music channels. Someone would get a copy from a friend, then
burn five more for members of their respective community, and so on.
The title of the album refers to the ability of an insects compound
eyes to see in all directions. Like the title, the music on this album
comes from Robert Pollards ability to look in many musical directions
while writing. Successes with experiments in pop, prog, psyche, and punk
result in a double album full of rewarding twists and changes; each track,
like another flight from a compound-eyed moth circling in its environment.
The sequencing on the album is perfect. From the opening track Gold
to the finale Recovering each song flows seamlessly into the
next. Dancing Girls and Dancing Men, Im a Strong
Lion, and The Right Thing are vintage Pollard tunes
with an immediate catchy pop hook that will have you humming along for
hours after hearing the tune. The entire project, especially the latter
song, features slick, fresh sounding production from Todd Tobias (GBV,
Circus Devils). The noises, sequences, and samples he creates and use
leave the listener wondering; Is that a bamboo chime, or a cowbell
all reverberated out, or maybe even a sample of a turn signal from a 1962
Ford truck clunking along? Progressive, experimental sounding tracks
like The Numbered Head,50 Year Old Baby, Blessed
in an Open Head, and Denied featuring lyrics referencing
the original title, sound perfect paired up against the wild-titled acoustic
strummings of Fresh Threats, Salad Shooters, and Zip Guns,
Cock of the Rainbow, and Payment for the Babies.
For all-out rockers, which fans of live GBV and Pollard have become accustomed,
Conquerer of the Moon, Im a Widow, Kick
Me and Cancel, and I Surround You Naked never disappoint.
This album will be in constant rotation after your first listen. As a
double album, it is longer than most of Robert Pollards previous
projects and upon first listen, From a Compound Eye, is a feast of a meal
to digest. With repeated listening the flavors, the vision, and the genius
that is Robert Pollard will become so evident, that you too can see his
music from all direction. Highly recommended.