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"Fiction Man"  Robert Pollard  Release date: 2004  Label: Fading Captain Series

Ten years ago when Guided By Voices were busy churning out classic albums like Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, these songs would have appeared in a half-finished, fragmentary form on whatever album the band happened to have been working on that week. Part of what made GBV such a mysterious and captivating band is the way that they offered glimpses of something sublime, through a cracked mirror of stone-age production and casually discarded song wreckage. As time went by and Guided By Voices albums became clearer and more coherent, all the intriguing extras have been sidelined into Robert Pollard's numerous solo albums and side-projects. The fourteen songs on display here date from round the time of "Universal Truths And Cycles" and, polished up into a form fit for human consumption by the multi-talented musicianship of Todd Tobias, they finally find their way into the arms of the waiting public.

For an album comprised entirely of flotsam and jetsam, it's still generously packed with moments of understated beauty. "Built To Improve" and "Conspiracy Of Owls" are eerie slices of esoteric pop eccentrica and the noisy "Trial Of Affliction And Light Sleeping" wouldn't have been out of place on "Propeller" or "Vampire On Titus". With the demise of Guided By Voices now less then three months away, this may be the last chance to sample a Robert Pollard solo album of this kind. While his solo career will undoubtedly continue, it's hard to imagine his pure pop sensibilities continuing to exist separately from these fascinating curiosities. The final GBV album, "Half Smiles of the Decomposed", is due out at the end of August and whatever follows could mark an intriguing new period in the life and work of an extraordinary songwriting talent. -Ian Martin, Jun.20.04

Robert Pollard [Fiction Man] 2004 Fiction Man

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