Circulatory System – Signal Morning

January 01, 1970



The creative footprint left by the Athens, GA-based bedroom
psychedelicists Olivia Tremor Control was undoubtedly large enough to have
served as one of the great inspirational touchstones of the last decade of
indie rock, as the sound of such popular acts of today as Animal Collective, No
Age and Deerhunter/Atlas Sound can undoubtedly attest. And even for people who
weren’t too hot on the whole Elephant Six scene back in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s,
OTC seemed like a different beast, creating a unique collage of experimental
adventurousness and keen pop sensibility that set itself apart from its core E6
brethren in many ways beyond Jeff Magnum’s whiny voice as Neutral Milk Hotel
and Robert Schneider’s sonic hyperactivity fits as Apples in Stereo. After the
dissolution of Olivia Tremor Control in late 2000, OTC chief Will Cullen Hart
went on to form Circulatory System, a group featuring several alumni from both
Olivia and Neutral Milk whose sound is a unswerving extension of the direction
his old band was taking on their brilliant 1999 swan song Black Foliage, as heard on the group’s outstandingly buggy
eponymous debut from 2001.


Following an eight-year hiatus in the wake of Hart’s unfortunate
diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Circulatory System makes a triumphant return
to the world stage with Signal Morning.  At 17 songs in just a hair under 45 minutes,
Circulatory System picks right up where they left off in ’01 with a ramshackle
collection of tunes that features some of the embattled songwriter’s strongest
material to date. Certainly Hart’s MS fight has harbored a major impact on both
his creative and private life, but judging from the sound of Signal Morning, one would never guess
this music is coming from a man who is struggling with such a debilitating
autoimmune disease. In fact, when you listen to such blissful, melodic tracks
as “This Morning (We Remembered Everything)” and “The Spinning Continuous”, you
would suspect such material would be coming from a man revitalized with a
newfound sense of purpose in life. And, in some ways, Signal Morning certainly is such a testament to Hart’s bravery and
artistic prowess, particularly when you reach the album’s second half with
songs like “Solid Forms Dissolving” and “The Frozen Lake/The Symmetry” that
challenge the listening experience while soothing the soul simultaneously.
However, the most interesting moments of this record exist within the context
of the album’s minute-and-change-long interludes like the textured tape loops
of “Electronic Diversion” and the hazy acoustics of “(Drifts)”, which suggest
that Hart has been listening to what’s being molded from his initial influence
on the likes of Panda Bear and Bradford Cox as intently as his young students
did with the blueprints of Dusk at Cubist


While it remains questionable how much more recording Hart’s
condition will allow him to achieve, it is the hope that his periods of remission
that MS is known to bless its inflicted with will inspire him to bring forth
more bursts of creativity like the ones that envelope this most long overdue
comeback work-and not take length of two presidential terms to do so.


“This Morning (We Remembered Everything)”, “Electronic
Diversion”, “The Frozen Lake/The Symmetry” RON



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