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Black Foliage: Animation Music By The Olivia Tremor Control

4.3 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 23, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Black Foliage: Animation Music by the Olivia Tremor Control is a triumph of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production, and by track 14 even the sink is fair game. Like 1996's Dusk at Cubist Castle: Music from the Unrealized Film, Black Foliage merges Beatles-esque melodies, lyrics, and quirky instrumentation, such as odd bleats of trumpet, crazy xylophone tinkling, toy pianos, and anything else within arm's reach. Stretching this sort of trip-out to more than an hour is a bit much--hell, even the Beatles only tried to do that once--but if broken up into smaller bites, Black Foliage has its rewards. On the ether-dizzy "Paranormal Echoes" OTC manages to play with all of their toys at once and yet keep them in line to produce a mind-numbingly beautiful and strange composition. The whole shebang is tied together with aurally disorienting interludes, occasionally disrupting the flow but never for long. In other words: happy songs, crazy arrangements, terrific fun. --Jason Josephes

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Opening
  2. A Peculiar Noise Called 'Train Director'
  3. Combinations
  4. Hideaway
  5. Black Foliage: Animation1
  6. Combinations
  7. The Sky Is A Harpsichord Canvas
  8. A Sleepy Company
  9. Grass Canons
  10. A New Day
  11. Combinations
  12. Black Foliage: Animation 2
  13. I Have Been Floated
  14. Paranormal Echoes
  15. Black Foliage: Animation 3
  16. A Place We Have Been To
  17. Black Foliage (Itself)
  18. The Sylvan Screen
  19. The Bark And Below It
  20. Black Foliage: Animation 4
  21. California Demise
  22. Looking For Quiet Seeds
  23. Combinations
  24. Mystery
  25. Another Set Of Bees In The Museum
  26. Black Foliage: Animation 5
  27. Hilltop Procession: Momentum Gaining

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 23, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Flydaddy Records
  • ASIN: B00000I90W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,577 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The Olivia Tremor Control are doomed to be forever misunderstood. Reviewers making some attempt to find an obvious influence grab onto the first reference they can think of--so now the band will forever be considered some cheap knock-off of The Beatles with just enough Syd Barrett thrown in to make it cryptically interesting and enough Brian Wilson to invite the casual listener to bemoan what they could have become if they had kept on the beaten path. They deserve much, much better.
Saying the OTC (the Olivias) strive to be The Beatles is something like claiming a politician is just trying to sound like Abe Lincoln. You learn from the best and incorporate the less obvious lessons into your own concepts. ("Less obvious" means that the Olivias' melodies sound like they COULD be Beatles songs, but damned if you can figure out which one. They haven't stolen from the master songwriters, they have discovered their secrets.) But more importantly, anybody who tells you the Olivias are nothing more than a Beatles knockoff is just grasping at straws. The Beatles at their most inventive would never have dared to ward off the less serious music listeners by inserting an eleven-minute track of ambient noises ("The Bark And Below It"). But were they just trying to weird us out, or perhaps describe their trips to an indifferent audience? To believe that is to miss the point completely.
Black Foliage should be experienced with a pair of headphones, eyes shut and mind open. Most importantly, don't skip the "animation" tracks, the sequences of floating sound, sometimes only a few seconds long and sometimes over a minute.
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By A Customer on November 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Pardon me for gushing, but I just think this album is the best thing I have bought in a long, long time.
First and foremost, this groups makes *albums*, not just a pile of songs slapped on a CD. No, Black Foliage has a definite concept to it, albeit a very obtuse, complex one. But that fact just makes it all the more intriguing.
The concept is explained in the liner notes. There are descriptions of techniques for each track. I found the descriptions alternately informative and a bit self-serving, especially on the overlong description of "The Bark and Below It." (Hey guys, you don't really have to explain every instrumental technique and tape loop. Just...let it happen. It was a long time before I knew exactly what that weird quavering sound in "Good Vibrations" was (a Theremin), but the mystery of it made it better. I sort of LIKED wondering how the heck they got that sound :)
Black Foliage has some of the most spine-tinglingly good '60s-influenced songs I have heard in a long time (aside from their previous album, Dusk at Cubist Castle), with strong melodies, layered harmonies and always offbeat arrangements and instrumentation. The variety of sounds on this album is astonishing. There are so many layers to each song that I find it endlessly fascinating, and I've listened to this album a lot.
Black Foliage immerses the listener in a surreal dream world, with ideas and images that move as fast and as abruptly as they do in dreams. The album has some main themes running through its entirety. The first is a series of "animations" of the Black Foliage song, in which the bass line from that song is twisted and mutated into some surprising variations.
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Format: Audio CD
This album surpasses the excellent "Dusk at Cubist Castle" because it radiates a full-fledged psychedelic confidence hinted at on their poppier previous album. No, the kitchen sink approach and disjointed soundscapes do not take away from this album, they are beautifully done. In fact this record represents a sort of culmination of the Elephant 6 collective; the 60s-esque songcraft, adventurous orchestration, the joyful abandon of performance, and the ingenuousness (and ingeniousness) of it all are on ample display here. The songs proper are fewer and farther between (it seems) but when they come they won't leave you. "Grass Canons," "I Have Been Floated," "A Sleepy Company," are alone worth it. Plus, OTC has such a grip on 60s psychedelic songcraft that you won't mind if this beat is stolen from "I'm Only Sleeping" or that guitar riff is straight off of "Revolver." You'll see them as the homages they are; or better yet, continuations and expansions upon--rather than copies of--a certain strain of music that still sounds cool today. They capture with childlike wonder that strange nostalgia those of us who weren't born yet feel for the psychedelic period. In a sense, they do "psychedelic" better than anyone; only the XTC offshoot Dukes of Stratosphear comes close in terms of thoughtfulness of songcraft. But despite these comments this is not a "period" piece (though they are obviously recording with old 4 track and 8 track technology!) There's a reason they're making music like this: because our times call for it. A really great experience.
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