Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, Black Lips, Circulatory System, Elephant 6, Kid A, Neutral Milk Hotel, Signal Morning, the olivia tremor control, Woods
PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Circulatory System’s “The Spinning Continuous” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
Of all of the acts associated with the Elephant Six Recording Company, perhaps Circulatory System makes the least sense. Formed by the large majority of The Olivia Tremor Control after its demise, they essentially began making the same exact music as the former, just under a different name. Naturally (and most confusingly for some), they’re still around while the label’s most recognizable act, Neutral Milk Hotel, hasn’t released an album in a decade.
Signal Morning may not mark the resurgence of Elephant 6. It may not even mark the resurgence of Circulatory System. But, for what it’s worth, at least people are talking about both entities again. With the recent rash of psychedelia popping up in today’s music scene, it makes sense that the forebears to Woods and the Black Lips (amongst others) would suddenly reappear. However, not only are they back, but somehow, after an eight-year layoff, they’ve managed to improve on the original product and create something that is once again new and original.
Missing from Circulatory System’s original approach were the electronic aspects. Consider it done. Signal Morning, along with the expected experimentation with horns, ban saws, etc., brings in enough electronic noise to make portions of it resemble a trippy Kid A. Some pop sensibilities even manage to bleed through as well here and there, such as on “Until Moon Medium Hears the Message” and in the title track.
Coupled with these new features are plenty of allusions to your old favorites too. “Blasting Through” does a dead-on impression of “The Lovely Universe” for a few minutes, while first single “Overjoyed” serves as a de facto sampler platter for what you’ll hear on the album. From chaotic lo-fi noise, to upbeat and triumphant marches, you’ll find quite a lot to choose from.
Regardless of what this release means for the bigger picture of Elephant 6 is almost irrelevant. The fact is that Circulatory System, one of their best offerings to the world, is back in action, and hopefully will be back to influencing the music around them. For now, it’s enough for me, but hopefully this isn’t just a placeholder for another extended dark period.
— John Cassillo