Described as a 19-track collection of “musical postcards” inspired by travel across the United States, Bill Baird’s Earth into Aether is a thematic selection of material from across the eclectic musician’s post-Sound Team solo output, including that of his quasi-band moniker Sunset. Adhering to themes of travel, arrivals, and departures, it delves into the songwriter’s more picturesque terrain while still representing his typical m?lange of styles, touching on psychedelic pop, country, and electronica, all under an umbrella of melodic lo-fi. Highlights include the trippy, organ- and delay-suffused “Your Dark Sunglasses Won’t Make You Lou Reed” (“or even Doug Yule”) and the infectious, guitar- and horns-fortified “24 Karat Soul.” Melodic bass and clattering xylophones give way to growling electronics on “Spring Break of the Soul.” Elsewhere, marrying the wistful and the wry (“You’re leaving me, but it makes me kind of glad”), “We’ll Meet Again Someday, or We Won’t” is a plainspoken acoustic guitar serenade. The unexpectedly strings-led “Surfing” is one of three varied instrumentals on the album, while fuzzed-out guitar and punky drums define “Captain Brain.” Given the spotty availability of Baird’s prior releases, some of which were exclusive to one format and then only temporarily, Earth into Aether is an opportune entrance point for those new to the artist, doubling as a well-curated playlist for established fans.
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