Wonders: Airport 5 – “Tower in the Fountain of Sparks”

April 11, 2008 at 10:33 am 5 comments

Image from GBV.com

Tobin Sprout and Robert Pollard’s sideband Airport 5 is an awesome mix of Pollard weirdness and Sprout’s excellent production. Sprout mailed the backing tracks to Pollard, who added vocals and tuh-duh.. a whole album!

Tower in the Fountain of Sparks was their first album, released in 2001 after some singles were released earlier that year.

The album is full of sleeper songs, some seriously awesome hooks are hidden in some of the longer (nearly 5 minute) songs. I go in depth on some of the songs, so I put it all after the jump.

The first song “Burns Carpenter, Man of Science” is slow and full of wit. But the next song really picks up the album. “Total Exposure” starts with a challenge:

How dare you say you have a good one
When it’s obvious I don’t (I don’t)

As plain as the nose on my face
Examine small holes with searchlights
open up the night to the light

Listen to the way to the children play
as the day slips away
and the light comes on
Total exposure

The chorus is repeated a lot in this song, for almost an entire minute at the end. The song really works though – it has an interesting depth to it as Pollard provides his own background vocals on this and almost all of the rest of the songs (reminiscent of “747 Ego” on Music For Bubble).

“Subatomic Rain” feels like a sci-fi movie soundtrack to me, and “One More” almost sounds like it belongs on a Psycho and the Birds album.

The real gems on this album, however, are the positively beautiful songs “War and Wedding” and “Up The Nails.” “War and Wedding” gives me goosebumps whenever I listen to it. The subtle organ backtrack, the acoustic rhythm, and the Peter Buck like guitar in the background. The song clocks in at just over 2 minutes, and oddly fades out in the middle of more lyrics. Along with songs like “Wrinkled Ghost,’ this proves Pollard can make songs with genuine warmth along with his high-kicking rockers.

“Up The Nails” has a creepy intro, hollow and empty sounding. The lyrics in this song are also very haunting, with a dirty/sharp imagery to them. Talk of nails, pointing, needles, fingers, quilting, etc. It is my favorite song on the album – its accusatory tone and dusty imagery makes me think of old arguments and useless bickering.

Ten fingers consistent
A must have situation

How can you believe that patience brings reward?
Up the nails with trappings
Little games and smaller worlds

What gentle fingers can feel
mankind can manipulate
all thumbs and needles
quilting the eye patch vision

How can you believe that patience brings reward?
Up the nails with trappings
Little games and smaller worlds

All fingers pointing
and many times you’ve been fooled
up the nails with superior secrets
you priceless metal flake

Tower in the Fountain of Sparks isn’t all sublime lyrics and odd production. There are some genuine GBV-like rockers, a favorite being “Stifled Man Casino.”

Pick up this album, music fans! It is a hidden gem that is probably overlooked by most non-Pollard worshipers.

Or just ask me for a copy.


Entry filed under: Music, Uncle Bob, Wonders.

quick realizations before going out Heading Out


  • 1. Kiala  |  April 11, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I already have it because I’m cool!


  • 2. Robert  |  April 11, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Correlation doesn’t equal causation.

    You are cool. You already have it. Therefore, you already have it because you are cool. I mean in addition to being cool.


  • 3. Kevin  |  May 18, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I’ve been looking for this everywhere…someone please send it/post it PLEASE

  • 4. Robert  |  May 19, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Begging will get you nowhere, Kevin.

    However – have you tried paying someone 8 measly dollars for it? Instead of trying to download it? It is technically out of print, but when you can still buy it NEW at Amazon.com, I think you haven’t been looking everywhere.

    Pony up the cash.

  • 5. Wonders - War and Wedding « shoes on powerlines  |  June 27, 2008 at 11:39 am

    […] already written about the entire Airport 5 album Tower in the Fountain of Sparks here. But I think “War and Wedding” is one of the most amazing songs ever written… so […]

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