Circulatory System: Circulatory System

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Circulatory System: Circulatory System

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Circulatory System

Album: Circulatory System
Label: Cloud

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Olivia Tremor Control was usually tagged as a neo-psychedelic band fixated on the '60s, but its two albums (Dusk At Cubist Castle and Black Foliage) were always more concerned with the theme of timelessness. Armed with a conceptual narrative that stretched back to the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the group dug into motifs of reincarnation and history's elasticity in ways that brought its romantic vision of the past speeding purposefully toward the present. The band's quixotic faith in exacting change not only separated it from the countless hangers-on who overloaded the Elephant 6 recording collective with Pet Sounds remakes; it also makes Circulatory System all the more inspiring for its staunch refusal to acknowledge any world outside its own. With OTC effectively out of commission, Circulatory System is the new incarnation of Will Hart, the searching, brooding foil to OTC's sunnier Bill Doss. After curiously disappearing from view just as its star began to rise, most of the band reconvened and started work on an album that plays like a musical companion piece to Richard Linklater's film Waking Life. Every song on Circulatory System is a pointedly quiet directive to harvest the shared fictions of consciousness, and to play with ingrained biological knowledge as if it were clay. "Prehistoric to the present day / It's all inside us, all inside us," Hart sings on "Prehistoric," a woozy, medieval-sounding interlude built from backward guitar and shuddering flanger bursts. The lyrics' inward slurp meets its match in production that turns OTC's cross-cutting excesses inside out, sucking ancient chants, drummer-boy snare lines, and disorientingly distant vocals into a throbbing womb. Given Hart's past preoccupations, Circulatory System is a concept album almost by default. But the concept seems most tied to the idea of vanquishing conceptual concerns, in order to live and breathe them instead. "We are often symbols, definitions, tables / hardware in a circular time," Hart sings on "Outside Blasts," before fading into the ether with, "We just want to fly away."