19 June 2008

The Olivia Tremor Control Vs. The Black Swan Network - 1997 - The Tour EP

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.75 out of 5

About 10 years ago I saw the Olivia Tremor Control in concert. Off to the side of the stage they had a small booth that you'd step into which included a microphone. The idea was that you'd record your dreams and that the band could use it for later recordings. Unfortunately, I didn't make it in time for this sole album that utilized the dreams. But you'll hear the murmur of dreams scattered throughout this recording, and the whole mix is a rather tripped out experience.

Obviously intended to be heard on vinyl, this album is divided into two side long tracks. The music exists in a netherworld between the full on psych rock of the band's proper albums and the ambient blur of Explanations II. When you get down to it, the flow of the disc reminds me a whole lot of Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy. Don't let that scare you off as this album has a far more organic and less pretentious sound that Zappa's opus (and if you already dig Lumpy Gravy then you're set). We hear a lot of sound collages (featuring barely audible dreams) and on a few spot the band actually kicks into gear for a few moments for a more inviting run of music. The beginning of side two especially stands out with its skittering drum beat and twin theremins. As always with the OTC, you're hopefully attuned to and open to the sound of rapidly flying tape loops and sudden reversing sounds. At a base level this is a pretty top flight psychedelic musical experience.

Even more experimental and out there than the Elephant 6 collective's reputation (of which OTC was a major part of), this Tour EP is a pure strain of strange music. It's a shame that this recording is all but forgotten as it adds an enlightening wrinkle to an already great band's legacy.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...