19 June 2008

The Olivia Tremor Control - 1996 - Explanation II: Instrumental Themes and Dream Sequences

Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

I pretty much consider the Olivia Tremor Control the best psychedelic band to record during the 90's. Admittedly, I may be a little biased as I was a student in their home base of Athens, Georgia during their prime. Regardless, you need to hear their two long-players, Dusk at Cubist Castle and Black Foliage, if you haven't already. This strange, long out-of-print release cropped up as a bonus disc that came along with the first pressings of Dusk at Cubist Castle. The rumor was that the disc was to be played along with the album for an extra layer of freakiness. Considering that the tracks don't match, nor does the timing of the album, I personally put about as much stock in that idea as the Wizard of Oz/Pink Floyd think (the end of 2001 with "Echoes" does work well as a side note). Seeing as this is an ambient album, I suppose you have nothing to lose by playing both, but we'll look at this as a singular entity.

If you are already acquainted with the OTC, you won't find much of their signature sound present here. This is an ambient exercise very much in the mold of Brian Eno's more amorphous albums. Listening to this either requires a zen-like focus, or you can let it roll purely as background music. There are nine tracks with various tonalities and varying degrees of background noise (much of this was supposedly recorded on an Athens porch), but there's not much to say about the tracks individually.

Sliding through you mind as you try to grasp it, this is a wonderful album to go to sleep with or set up an unobtrusive vibe in an otherwise silent room. It's a testament to the band that they were willing to branch this far out, but this is about as far from the quintessential OTC sound as you can get.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Great album; love the rolling thunder. I can almost picture myself on the porch with an acoustic guitar.

Anonymous said...

as far as the Wizard of Oz/Dark Side thing I am with you, it just doesn't work. Although Black Sabbath's Paranoid album works amazingly well (with the whole Iron Man/Tin Man thing). Thanks for all the great music, much appreciated.