A key item on my "seriously anticipated, possibly mythical projects" wish-list got checked off this month when Circulatory System’s second album finally got an official title and release date. I realize that band’s name may or may not mean much to you, but for fans like me, this is huge. Circulatory System rose from the ashes of the late, great band the Olivia Tremor Control at the close of the ’90s; put out a superb self-titled LP in 2001; then went more or less silent for the next eight years. If Signal Morning, due August 4, is even half as good as Circulatory System’s first album, it’ll be a true gift for anyone who digs psychedelic indie-folk orchestrations and joyous pop melodies. Read on after the jump for the Music Mix’s interview with Circulatory System frontman Will Cullen Hart about the new album — plus one unbelievably awesome tidbit about the future of the Olivia Tremor Control.
Hart tells the Music Mix that Signal Morning‘s release was delayed by a number of factors, most notably his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis. He’s thrilled with the way it turned out — a tight, 45-minute set, with "some more rocking stuff" to go with the sort of layered recurring motifs that typified the band’s first album. Though he’s been working on Signal Morning on and off since 2001, Hart reached back even farther in time for some of the new tunes. "The first song on the record, the beginnings are from 1993," he says. "Then four years later I wrote the lyrics, not even trying to. You just find it on an old tape, ‘Oh, wow, there’s that!’"
That song, "Woodpecker Greeting Worker Ant," ultimately became a mini-reunion of sorts, with vocal harmonies added this year by Olivia Tremor Control co-frontman Bill Doss — one of the few members of that band who didn’t go on to join Hart in Circulatory System. Fans will notice other familiar names in the liner notes, too. Longtime collaborator Jeff Mangum, the press-shy genius behind Neutral Milk Hotel, played drums on one track, "The Spinning Continuous," in late 2001. The song "Signal Morning," based in part on an outtake from the sessions for the Olivia Tremor Control’s 1999 masterpiece Black Foliage, features drums by Olivias member Eric Harris. The rest of the Circulatory System lineup contributed heavily to the album as well, of course, including bass and cello from Heather McIntosh — who, oddly enough, recently toured as part of Lil Wayne’s backing band. ("Isn’t that cool?" laughs Hart. "I didn’t know who the f— [Wayne] was.")
Oh, and before I forget, I’ve saved the loveliest bit of news that Hart gave me for last. Get this: The Olivia Tremor Control has been recording some new material of its own! "We’ve got two songs for the next Olivia record, in my opinion," says Hart. "They’re on Bill’s hard drive…We’re really proud of it." It’s unclear now whether a full Olivia album is in the cards, he adds: "We’re working toward something. I’m not sure that we know, even." Whatever comes from these sessions, even if it’s just a one-off Olivia Tremor Control single, I can’t wait to hear it. My ears are still singing from the OTC reunion gig that I caught in 2005. If there’s any chance that we’re in for a new Circulatory System album and a new Olivia Tremor Control album in the near future, man, will I count myself lucky. Any other Elephant 6 loyalists out there feeling as utterly psyched as I am about all this?