Review Summary: Euphoric auditory liquid
You're hanging upside down wearing a straightjacket in a sixteen by sixteen-foot room, with honey dripping through the walls all around you, and vents breathing the fragrance of rose buds and that of a fresh spring rain through the ceiling to permeate the air. Your eyes are glazed, and your blood is far-past rushing to your head; it is swishing and swashing through your transparent irides, now but twin hazy pieces of glass with neither focus nor seemingly any evidence of conscious life behind them. Immobile, you're taking in your dripping surroundings helplessly but voluntarily, mind fizzing over upon itself for hours on end, rewinding every third second to cycle yourself endlessly, endlessly
in the haze: This is Circulatory System
This is The Olivia Tremor Control (OTC) without Bill Doss in the 21st century, actually. Fitting sound, even predictable, though in a dream come true, nay dream put into motion circumstance, rather than being some disappointing solution to a mathematic equation. The proof of one Will Cullen Hart left to his own devices, with twenty-one musicians in tow, is in the pudding – and the metaphor pudding
cannot be closer to the truth, a surprisingly accurate description, albeit neo-psychedelic pop-flavored. One might imagine OTC’s 1999 Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume 1
placed into a blender with LCD and painkillers to smooth the edges of the already narcotic-soaked main ingredient: You're hanging upside down with honey and the smell of roses indeed, voluntarily, over and over.
Georgia OTC’s main calling card, a sublime pairing of 60s psychedelic pop and unpredictable electronic and kitchen-sink experimentation, formed the foundations of the group's two classic albums in the 90s. An extension from the Elephant 6 band’s aesthetic while still keeping these two sound elements together, closer and saturated
, Circulatory System
places a stronger emphasis on the actual album vehicle when compared to OTC’s work, rather than on individual songs to cement and define itself. “Yesterday’s World” may be a strong reminder of this project's past pop strengths under the OTC name, but as one proceeds further into Circulatory System
’s river of psychedelic gloss, and perhaps the single best description, euphoric auditory liquid
, you’ll find that the group never rise or fall below the set level of sound happenings. In fact, so homogenous is the album that its losing of you is inevitable
, yet very welcomed:
The narcotic supplement, the narcotic pillow, Circulatory System
is seemingly designed to steer you off your conscious course of thought once the drag-sung melodies and peppy chorus of “Waves of Bark and Light” meet you midway through the album's length. It’s a physical atmosphere modifier, as if each melody is sung from a mic underwater, or from lips drenched in honey; guitars play in sleepy-eyed paces and tones, and the other instruments sound as if forcefully suffocated, almost fighting to stay awake and breathe for themselves. At this point, imagine and feel the group's heavenly harmonies and Hart’s luscious vocals of “Symbols and Maps” come to you from a far distance, waving at you from a mirage-wavering horizon; it’s okay back there, you suppose, but it’s far better here. You know Circulatory System
is still playing somewhere, though, but for now you’re just happy at where it’s placed you, lost in your mind. Perhaps you may come back to consciousness with a stronger melody later on during “How Long"” - but not now. No, now you’re under the influence.
“We will live forever, and you know it’s true
,” in unison sing Circulatory System repeatedly on closer “Forever”, a defining point of their self-titled album that awakens you from your trance. It is your first taste of reality again, and it is also a promise: The effect of Circulatory System
remains constantly as entrancing as it was on your first trip into its rivers of psychedelic liquid - in theory, lasting forever. You'll find that you won’t be able to build up a resistance to this drug
- being a point of complaint that might hold those more concretely founded individuals at bay, as it turns out. Psychedelic by definition, psychedelic in its essence, Circulatory System
is an experience like no other, melded by one half of an Elephant 6 legend, yet is a perfect continuation of OTC’s Black Foliage
. Come to it bringing a straightjacket, a few extra hours, and let Circulatory System
do the rest.