Olivia Tremor Control Get Animated For New LP

Avant-pop Athens, Ga., quartet melds unusual field recordings with pop on its second album.

William Cullen Hart and the other members of Olivia Tremor Control weren't thinking

about Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes when they called their upcoming album

Black Foliage: Animation Music By the Olivia Tremor Control.

The idiosyncratic quartet from Athens, Ga., had something else in mind.

"The animation ... is all the stuff floating around and interrupting [the tracks on the

album]," multi-instrumentalist Hart, 27, said. "Almost during every song, you hear some

little thing creak or groan or zip by. To me, that's what [animation music] is: sort-of a

sound and space, personified -- just flying around to greet you in a friendly way" (interview excerpt).

Set for a Feb. 2 release, the album is the band's second full-length opus. It features

sound snips, clips and loops on experimental pieces, such as "The Bark And Below It,"

while embracing an accessible pop sensibility on tunes such as "A Sleepy Company."

It may seem a strange juxtaposition to place field recordings of crickets chirping and the

sound of people climbing the stone steps of a Swedish castle alongside the kind of ear

candy that sounds as though it belonged on the Beach Boys' pop classic Pet

Sounds. But that's what his recording collective is all about, Hart said.

"Obviously, the juxtaposition of super-pop against the [more experimental material]

makes them both stand out a lot more," Hart said. "That's really why we like that.

Somebody who might really like soundscapes might not be somebody who really likes

melodies and vice versa, so we're not really trying to switch anybody over. We just

happen to like both"

(interview excerpt).

Continuing a theme established with their double-disc debut, Music from the

Unrealised Film Script "Dusk at Cubist Castle" -- which featured such tracks as


Ambassador" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Can You Come

Down With Us?" (RealAudio excerpt) -- Olivia Tremor Control urged fans to

send them cassettes describing their dreams, and they included several of those choice

nocturnal musings on their next album.

The group was born from the lo-fi and highly experimental Elephant 6 recording

collective headquartered in Athens, Ga. That collective, which grew out of a gathering of

friends with a similar passion for making music, also gave birth to fellow avant-pop

enthusiasts Apples In Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel and Elf Power. Within the collective,

bands share musicians and often appear on each other's work and onstage during each

other's tours.

Just as they did with their last record, Olivia Tremor Control enlisted the aid of the

Elephant 6 crew in recording Black Foliage.

Apples In Stereo singer/guitarist and producer Robert Schneider played guitar on one

track and mixed the record in his studio in Denver. Neutral Milk Hotel singer/guitarist Jeff

Mangum and multi-instrumentalists Julian Koster and Scott Spillane also contributed

their versatile talents.

The most high-profile fan of Olivia Tremor Control and their experimental recording

techniques might be fellow Athens, Ga., resident singer Michael Stipe of superstar

art-rockers R.E.M.

Asked who he thinks are among the best new musical artists out there, Stipe praised the

Elephant 6 stable as having some of the "coolest bands, making some of the most

interesting music around."

Olivia Tremor Control's eclectic approach has struck a chord on foreign shores as well,

winning such fans as 20-year-old U.K. resident Giles Hamlin, who raved about the

band's unique sound.

"I really like Olivia because they are just such a refreshing change from the standard

crop of alternative bands you hear about these days," wrote Hamlin in an e-mail. "The

music is done really well. But if you listen to it, it isn't reminiscent of any particular '60s

band -- just a generic '60s sound. And they love to experiment too, which is cool -- the

use of things such as singing saws and Dictaphones held to guitar pick-ups is really


Not content simply to rotate instruments among Hart and fellow Olivia Tremor Control

multi-instrumentalists/singers Bill Doss, John Fernandes and Eric Harris, the foursome

stretched the limit while recording the song "Hideaway," pressing a slew of acoustic

guitarists into duty.

Hart recalled that the studio got a little crowded.

"We had 10 people play guitar on 'Hideaway,' " Hart said. "We had them come in two at a

time so the song kind-of gets thicker as it goes along. That was pretty insane, having all

those people learning the chords and coming in at the right time and trying to get it right

in a room as small as a closet."