You may know Bill Baird as the guy who was in Sound Team, a band whose tale of major label signing and instant disintegration is as old as time, or maybe from those wicked Sunset albums. That said, you truly ‘ought to know him as one of the last remaining rock and roll geniuses. To borrow a line from Bender, he transcends genres even as he reinvents them. His latest release, Diamond Eyepatch, continues more from the mania and humor of Baird’s 2012 album, Career than it does his most recent recording, 2013’s Spring Break of the Soul, which was a highly orchestrated double-album opus, his prestige album.
Baird’s mini-album and Moon Glyph debut Diamond Eyepatch is a freewheeling affair, recorded entirely to tape and presented in two diametric halves. Baird’s uniquely hurt yet hopeful voice can be heard clearly on the first three tracks. The opening “Luby’s Purgatory”, a shimmering sunshine-pop ditty contrasted by lyrics that include the hook “you’re fucked”, and the next couple tracks continue the lo-fi mutant pop trend. The set then switches gears after the 9-minute triptych “I’ve Waited My Whole Life To Disappear / Diamond Eyepatch See / Endless Ocean” mid-album, where things go from a hurt synth pop ode to driving, reverb-laden rock trance capped off by a long drum session fade. After that, “Small Room, Big Mind” is a psychedelic drone-rock jam, “Cabin Mix” is a lengthy manipulation of cabin field recordings meshed into a classic example of musique concrète (apparently intended for an 8 speaker mix), and the closing track is a stunningly sweet and moving Eric Satie piece called “Sonneries de la Rose + Croix”. Though it was arranged for piano, what sounds like flamenco guitar and an effected melodica, it could just be Baird messing with our heads.
Diamond Eyepatch like right and left brain, Baird’s meshing of paranoid, eccentric garage-pop and avant-garde whimsy bolstered by his experience earning an MFA in electronic music from Mills College. You never know what’s next with this guy! But you should know picking up a Bill Baird tape that it’s going to be a Bill Baird tape. It’s going to be full of lo-fi weirdness that attempts to shine third eyes like a good Bill Hicks routine. One can easily enjoy his work superficially, but that rabbit hole goes a long way down if you’re willing to give chase.