Home Read Albums Of The Week: Andrew Bird | Outside Problems

Albums Of The Week: Andrew Bird | Outside Problems

The shapeshifting violinist takes it outside (again) with his latest environmental LP.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “A year since the release of his acclaimed and questing Inside Problems LP, Andrew Bird has released Outside Problems, a collection of fleeting, expansive instrumental improvisations and melodic explorations that capture the sound of music in everyday life.

Similar to the creation process behind his environment-based Echolocations series, Bird recorded Outside Problems primarily outdoors, amidst the mountains and orange groves of Ojai. As both a precursor and extension of the world he’s built and pondered throughout this latest chapter of his perennially prolific career, Outside Problems planted the seeds to many of the songs, thoughts and complex questions that fill 2022’s Inside Problems. Outside Problems’ arrangements and motifs on tracks like Epilogue, Mormon House Party, Tik Tok and more, evolved into themes that Bird would continue to refine across Inside Problems, as he explains:

“There are two notable things about this album. One, none of these songs were recorded with the intent of making an album, I just happened to capture moments of melodic exploration over a period of time. You can hear themes from Inside Problems throughout the album, including on the song Epilogue, just without concern for bridges and choruses and the band. I’m able to capture the sound of music in everyday life, a surprisingly hard thing to do. I was playing for the joy of it and to get these ideas out of my head. To hear them in a room. There is no room.

Photo by David Black.

“Second, these pieces were recorded primarily outside in Ojai, CA. I’m no stranger to recording outside as with the Echolocations series. My plan was to record Inside Problems outside, but the leaf-blowers made that difficult… Deep in the pandemic, far from the city and album campaigns and Instagram strategies, getting back to the original point of it all.”

Through the Mo Teef music video, Bird uses Outside Problems to further shed light on the inspiring sceneries and vital, fading landscapes that are more precious than ever. Created by frequent collaborator Tyler Manson, footage was sourced from four films including Blue Heart, a documentary Bird scored about the last wild rivers in Europe, and the battle to save them. Over shots of lush, sunlit and snow-covered forests, flowing streams, deep canyons and more that span British Columbia, Japan, Nevada, Tasmania, The Balkans, South Korea and beyond, emphasizing the crucial importance of preservation through the following message:

“The Earth is under no obligation to support life. The Earth is indifferent. We personify nature and call it mother, deflecting our own obligation to preserve and protect. Nature is not a mother. Nature is our good luck, our fortune, and we are squandering it. What if preservation was our livelihood? It is.”