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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 insect’s compound eyes to see in all directions. Like the title, the music on this album comes from Robert Pollard’s 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”, “I’m 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”, “I’m 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 Pollard’s 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.