Andrew Bird is a composer and an extremely talented musician who has been around for several years. He is just beginning to gain some more mainstream recognition, with a new album out and also a guest appearance on the soundtrack for The Muppets. Mr. Bird does it all. He can whistle, play guitar, play violin.
His live performance of “Tenuousness” is an astonishing example of his genius creativity and skill. The song begins with crisp staccato plucks of Bird’s violin strings, which seem to multiply and harmonize out of nowhere. However, what appears to be musical sorcery is simply just the work of a clever magic trick: a looping pedal. Andrew Bird somehow manages to time every tap of his pedal perfectly, each note intertwining and building off of the last.
The plucking of strings continues throughout the song, adding a bright, cheerful tone to the performance. Bird then plays some phrases on the violin with his bow. The smooth, soothing, breeze-like effect slightly juxtaposes the sporadic plucking. After a few moments of listening, it begins to blend together. Bird repeats the phrases with his bow, building layers upon layers of the same phrase.
Two minutes into the song, Andrew Bird has created a wall of sound. One man has managed to sound like an entire room full of musicians. Bird plays off of himself rather well. He picks up his guitar. The coarse distortion supplied by the guitar signals the end of the serene and breathtaking introduction to “Tenuousness”. Suddenly, Bird’s voice breaks through the multiple barriers of invisible instruments. The magniloquent nature of Bird’s lyrics is similar to the language of a scholar, but he handles them with the grace and fragility of a poet. The song goes on for around three more minutes, and finishes just as suddenly as it began.
Andrew Bird has albums full of masterpieces. Do yourself a favor, and pick up his new record at the store. Devote a day to indie alternative’s Beethoven. You’ll thank me later.