Texas native Bill Baird is a prolific, multifaceted musician as well as a D.I.Y. artist/inventor/technologist. He's worked on multi-media art installations, music videos, independent film scores, and various experimental sound recordings and live works (including "Compumonium," with what he calls his laptop ensemble). He's also released music under his own name, as Sunset, and as a member of indie rock band Sound Team.
He formed Sound Team in 2000 with Matt Oliver, eventually expanding the lineup, which would vary over time. After earning a growing fan base with a series self-released CD-Rs and cassettes, they made the analog-recorded Marathon LP, which was picked up by the St. Ives imprint of Secretly Canadian. It was followed by 2005's Work EP, a selection of previously released songs. That same year, they were signed to Capitol and toured in support of bands including Arcade Fire and the Walkmen. Their Capitol debut, Movie Monster, was issued in June 2006. Among other factors, restructuring at the label led to the band being dropped a year later, and the group self-released the vinyl EP Empty Rooms/Bedroom Walls/Up from Ashes. Sound Team decided to disband soon after, playing a farewell show at the 2007 Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Baird continued to release piecemeal material under his own name while he formed Sunset, which was essentially a solo project. Blending catchy, sunshiny indie pop, experimental instrumentals, electronics, and ambient song sketches, Sunset put out five long-players -- Pink Clouds, Bright Blue Dream, The Glowing City, Gold Dissolves to Gray, and Loveshines But the Moon Is Shining Too -- all in the span of 2008 to 2010. In 2010, he also appeared in the documentary Echotone about the Austin music scene, and Autobus, which had been releasing Sunset's material, also issued Baird's essentially unavailable solo album Silence! from 2006.
Dropping the Sunset name, he continued to work on various musical projects, including live collaborations, self-released songs, and 2013's Spring Break of the Soul, released via Austin's Pau Wau Records. That year, he also relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in experimental music at Mills College. Ensuing projects included 2014's Magnetetractys/Hot Hands, his name for the demonstration of a constructed electro-acoustic harp desk involving magnetism and synthesizers, and multimedia art installation The Living Room at the Museum of Human Achievement in Austin. In 2015, he released Vexationsbot, a computer program that plays through all 840 cycles of Erik Satie's posthumously published Vexations, and premiered Mundus Novus, an experimental public-access television opera.
Earth Into Aether, a 19-track collection of "musical postcards" inspired by travels across the United States, arrived in early 2016. Offering selections from across Baird's pop/rock solo output, it represented a mélange of stylistic influences, including garage and psychedelic pop, electronica, and country. He returned in late 2016 with Summer Is Gone. While it was released in physical, digital, and streaming formats, he presented its ten tracks -- each with dozens of remix versions by Baird himself -- at a custom website that would create a unique version of the album for each visitor. He quickly followed that with a pair of LPs released on vinyl via Talk Show Records on the same day in March 2017. Described as "morning" and "evening" records, respectively, Easy Machines concentrated on reflective psych-folk while Baby Blue Abyss offered a more shimmering, uptempo set. ~ Marcy Donelson
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