***ON LIMITED CLEAR YELLOW VINYL!!! Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia was Guided By Voices’ third album, self-released by the band in 1988 in a pressing of 500. While both of the band’s earlier albums exhibit strong songwriting and plenty of vision, it is here that the GBV sound really begins to coalesce. While Devil Between My Toes is rife with contrasts, variety, and dark psychedelia, and its follow up Sandbox is a cohesive ’60s-influenced affair, Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia marries the two approaches to outstanding effect.
Unsurprisingly, recording began before Sandbox was even done pressing. These sessions would yield an aborted LP titled Learning To Hunt, but after personnel changes and second thoughts, Robert Pollard shelved most of the tracks, dismissing them as too similar to those on Sandbox. Fair enough, as many of Pollard’s more recent songs were simply on another level than previously. Here are the first of the classic Pollard slow-burners, often built on a simple melodic or rhythmic figure that circles itself ever outward, accumulating heft, variation, and inevitability as the song evolves into something unexpected yet inevitable. It’s the aural equivalent to watching a butterfly grow out of its cocoon.
A few things are unique to this particular LP. Original powerhouse drummer Peyton Eric returns for nearly half the tracks, while engineer and lead guitarist Steve Wilbur shines at his brightest, resulting in some of the most thoroughly rocking GBV songs to ever be cut to lacquer, such as “Earful o’ Wax,” which simply explodes out of the speakers when the solo section begins. On the other end of the spectrum, you get Pollard recording perfect pop gems at home with just voice and guitar, which would become a calling card on later GBV albums. There’s simply a tremendous variety of material, all strung together in such a way that the album is all of one piece, a mosaic.