The Mysterious Production of Eggs

The fifth album by the Chicago native by the inventive singer/songwriter, known of late for his fascinating and unique layered sound--chock full of violin, glockenspiel, and like any good bird, some whistling.

The Mysterious Production of Eggs is full of interesting ideosyncracies, like once again including two songs with unpronounceable symbols as titles, or calling another song "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left."

And of course, the album title, which as it turns out, has its origins in the same place as his old band, Bowl of Fire. Bird found "Bowl of Fire" in an early 1900s magic catalog. And on the page opposite a "bowl of fire" trick, there was one called "the mystic production of eggs." Thus, the natural progression of Bird's post-Bowl of Fire work continutes.

Unlike Bird's atmospheric predecessor Weather Systems, this album has a little bit more texture to it. From the rock of "Fake Palindromes" to the flowing delicate beauty of "Masterfade," the 14 tracks on The Mysterious Production of Eggs weave a fresh and exciting musical synthesis.

For example, on the aforementioned "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left," Bird wonderfully grafts a chamber pop aesthetic to his moody pizzicato violin, with briefly tantalizing baroque vocal harmonies a la Belle & Sebastian and Bird's sonically-treated whistling sounding like the theremin in the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations."

Bird says that many of the album's songs are about childhood under attack by shadowy forces that want to measure, commodify, and buy and sell things which can't be measured. "When the tales of brothers Grimm and Gorey have been outlawed," Bird sings in the song "Measuring Cups," "I think they're going to make you start over, you don't want to start over/Put your backpack on your shoulder, be the good little soldier."

Some of the lyrics are Lewis Carroll-like in their playfulness. "You took my hand and led me down to watch a kewpie doll parade/We let the kittens lick our hair and drink our chalky lemonade," says the song "Masterfade."

The album also features wonderful artwork by Chicago artist Jay Ryan, who contributed an illustration to accompany each song-often resembling a somewhat grotesque, or at the least off-kilter, children's book.

And although the illustration for the song "Tables and Chairs" shows disturbing flames flowing off a trio of cute of farm animals gathered at a table to eat pie, the lyrics themselves display a sense of optimism: "I know we're gonna meet some day in the crumbled financial institutions of this land/There will be tables and chairs/Pony rides and dancing bears/There'll even be a band."

Bird continues to be a fascinating musician to follow, continually evolving his sound into newer and unexpectedly delightful directions.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director