A mere two years ago, the Elephant 6 collective was a mighty,
paisley-clad army, tossing off one brilliant psychedelic pop
album after another. It seemed as if they could do no wrong; Robert
Schneider, Andrew Reiger, Jeff Mangum and William Cullen Hart garnered
praise from critic after critic after critic after critic as they
marched their troops onward towards their rightful place in pop music
history. But somewhere along the way, the collectiveís victory trot
turned into a torturous death march that left many of their most
successful and prominent artists wounded and seeking shelter. That first
winter was indeed the toughest, and when it concluded, only The Apples in
Stereo and Elf Power were able to continue, forced to leave their
comrades Neutral Milk Hotel and The Olivia Tremor Control behind, fully
expecting to never see them again. Fast forward two years;
we've heard only minor rumblings from the souls that were left
behind that fateful spring. But the first major uprising is now upon
Circulatory System has risen from the ashes of the mighty Olivias.
This slightly stripped down (relatively speaking) version of that once-great unit has arrived to reclaim their kaleidoscopic destiny.
An unofficial follow-up to 1999ís Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume
1, this self-titled album was brought to you by the same cast of
ragamuffin characters (except for Bill Doss) you have come to know and
love via such albums as On Avery Island and First Symphony for Nomad.
Former OTC members William Cullen Hart, John Fernandez, Pete Erchick and
Eric Harris form the core of this extended musical family; their carnival-styled musings are the foundation of Circulatory
Systemís gingerbread house of capricious pop fancy. Their
everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sound is a familiar one: dense rhythmic
structures layered with elegiac organ drones, toy piano, fuzzed-out
acoustic guitars, scratchy cellos and Hartís unmistakable elfin croon.
They recall their golden days on "The Lovely Universe" and
"Outside Blasts", then expound upon their ramshackle ways with "Inside
Blasts"' chanted refrain and bizarre time signatures. But for all the
new ground Circulatory System covers, their best moments surface when the
gang returns to their old tricks. The short but sweet "Fingers" suggests an opium-dipped Simon & Garfunkel, and "Stars" is a jaunty,
vaudeville-style romp through a fertile countryside, while the
grand cinematic sweeps of "A Peek" sound as is an orchestra
comprised of crickets, grasshoppers and the odd praying mantis manned
the chairs. Circulatory System requires listeners to look to
the future, while keeping their feet planted firmly in the past.
Bold, adventurous, whimsical and witty, this debut offering from
Circulatory System proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are
still signs of life to be found in the Elephant 6 collective.
You just have to look a bit harder to find them.