US - Georgia - Full Moon 164 - 01/30/10
Cloud Recordings / Elephant 6
A bit late, this one, originally released in September last year. But, I had to await the (white) vinyl edition (launched in October), which I didn't get my hands on until recently (even though I've 'sneak-peeked' digital streaming on the net - I'm not totally old-school after all). When 2009 turned 2010. I was also really keen to check out reasons why our Tim was a bit disappointed with the new album by Circulatory System.
Circulatory System is Will Curren Hart's (one of the founders of Olivia Tremor Control and the Elephant 6 collective) band. It's been over 8 years (!) since the release of the brilliant self-titled debut. Signal Morning is the proper (the difficult...) second album (even though there was an in-between CDR-platter, Inside Views). And, as always with Elephant 6-related releases -- many E6 regulars appear. Along with Will Cullen Hart (vocals, guitar), the band counts ex-Olivia Tremor Control members John Fernandes and Peter Erchick, plus Nesey Gallons (also The Music Tapes), Heather Mcintosh (also The Instruments), Derek Almstead (Of Montreal, Summer Hymns, Visitations, Great Lakes, The Sunshine Fix, Marshmallow Coast, The Instruments, M Coast, and Elf Power -- to name a few...), Suzanne Allison, Hannah Jones,
and Charlie Johnston. Not to forget, also contributing: Bill Doss and Eric Harris (another pair of Olivia Tremor controllers), Julian Koster (The Music Tapes), Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel), Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor). The list is long. The list of engineers is also quite long, counting Robert Schneider (Apples in Stereo), along with Curren Hart, Almstead, Doss, Olson, Johnston, Gallons, and a few more.
So, the musical content then. Signal Morning holds 17 songs from the wild and wonderful psychedelic world of Curren Heart, recorded in the midst of his battle against MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Signal Morning is songs from the woods, and songs from other worlds. Or, songs trying to get in touch with other worlds, other universes. As the Cloud site says about Curren Hart: "...broadcasting his urgent pleas to the world(s) to evolve into a higher dimension or for existing patterns to reveal themselves at peace within the natural order of the universe". I also get this feeling that you could possibly meet some of Will Curren Hart's many drawings (of more or less eerie or challenging characters) within his music. Yet, it seems like Curren Hart's universe is about the smaller details of things in life and in nature. Like ants. Or woodpeckers. "Woodpecker Greeting Worker Ant" opens the album, and is somehow reminding me of Norwegian band Motorpsycho a few years back in time. "Rock and Stones" turns rocks and stones, having a look. "Overjoyed" is a joyous song. The quality and mood of the
songs is like a roller coaster, but things are picking up again with "Gold Will Stay" and "The Frozen Lake / The Symmetry", which brings the debut to mind. I also find the rather chaotic "Blasting Through" quite spellbinding, but it's an odd piece, sounding really inside-out/upside-down, twisted and bent.
Blast - or blasts - could be a key-word describing Signal Morning, because here are blasts of pop and blasts of psychedelic semi-noise side by side. Some songs are right on track, others are slightly out of focus, or simply going in too many directions. Well, the 'blasts' aspect occurred on Circulatory System as well, which had two tracks entitled "Outside Blasts" and "Inside Blasts". In fact, Signal Morning is sort of the sequel to Circulatory System, or maybe a parallel. There are themes on this one I could swear I've heard before. And, the parallel world of the two albums also reflects with the many related song titles. I mentioned "Outside Blasts"/"Inside Blasts" vs. "Blasting Through". Then there's "Joy" vs. "Overjoyed", and "The Lovely Universe" vs. "The Breathing Universe". You have "Round" vs. "Round Again", and "Your Parades" vs. "Particle Parades". I'm sure I've could've found a few more (not so obvious) links.
Sum up: Signal Morning isn't as good as I'd hoped it would be. Circulatory System is a much better album, I think, both the songs and the sound. I won't be putting Signal Morning away for good, I believe it has quite some potential. But I'll be floating away on Circulatory System a few more times before returning to this one.
Copyright © 2010 Håvard Oppøyen