While digging through the online archives about the American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird, I came across an album called Bliss. I had never heard of this album so I gave it a listen. Fully expecting to hear the folky guitar or swelling strings that I've grown accustomed to, you can imagine my surprise when all had been replaced with industrial synths, dreamy bells, and occasional female vocals. Was this some super-secret experimental album? Had I transcended into an alternate universe? What was this musical sorcery?
Turns out there is more than one Andrew Bird in the music industry. Go figure. This Andrew Bird is from the UK and has been writing music, producing artists, and composing film scores for almost 20 years. Andrew is cognizant of the name confusion, but has hopes for a potential collaboration between the Birds.
Perhaps someday the Birds will get together and form a giant Ultra-Bird but for now, perhaps this one can make you a very British cup of tea.
Don't skip around on this album. It's meant to be listened to from start to finish. A true masterpiece in its entirety; it should be consumed with good headphones or a high fidelity stereo. Please listen responsibly.
The album opens almost like time began. A vast emptiness on the verge of creation, teeming with potential. There is stillness, calm. Ambient sounds push and pull. Then, a song. It calls from the deep, but with an air of recognition. Build with a simple piano, layer in some woodwinds, pulse out a beating rhythm with synths, then mirror the tune with bells that crescendo to fullness in song.
Bliss continues to grow and expand. The melodies become more complex and voices begin to emerge. One thing you'll hear across each track is the sound of a glockenspiel. It was given to Andrew on his 7th birthday and he tries to incorporate it into every song, regardless of theme. The album culminates in the song Voyager, which is based on transmissions from the Voyager Probe; the most distant human-made object in our universe. When the song was written in 2012, Voyager was 18.5 billion kilometers away and still transmitting its haunting song.
When you are finished with Bliss, queue up an encore with Andrew's latest album Control, which debuted this past January. This album has some similar styles, but is more reminiscent of the Drive soundtrack if I were going to try and liken it to anything else. A little more clubby and less spacey. Honestly, when listening to this album, I imagine myself driving a DeLorean across a digital landscape of cross-hatch neon lines. You know, like the kind you had in the background of your elementary school pictures.