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Monday, 3 November 2008

All the Pieces Matter

Black Foliage by Olivia Tremor Control is a half finished jigsaw puzzle of an album. Parts of the record - the more difficult bits like the sea or the sky - seem to remain entirely confused, turned over, overlapping, jumbled up. Other parts suddenly coalesce to form beautifully rendered pop miniatures.

The sleeve notes describe a recording process that started with one piece (the track Black Foliage, subtitled "itself") which is stripped to parts then treated, re-recorded, looped, chopped up and spun into the various shapes of the album's other tracks. Sounds a bit like hard work, and at times it's a tough listen. But the ecstatic melody of songs like A New Day - which emerge from and then subside again into the surrounding chaos - makes it all more than worthwhile.

The band belonged to the same Elephant 6 scene as Neutral Milk Hotel. If Black Foliage doesn't quite sustain the same level of brilliance as the inestimable In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, then it remains well worth seeking out.

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