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Singles & Beyond

3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 8, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Singles and Beyond--the Olivia Tremor Control's collection of early singles, EPs, and rarities--serves as a sprawling 20-track document of the band's work from 1992 to 1995. Compiled in chronological order by OTC frontmen William Cullen Hart and Bill Doss, Singles and Beyond offers fans a chance to finally hear much of the band's out-of-print and hard-to-find early work all on one disc. As one would expect, OTC covers a lot of ground on Singles, tracing their evolution from the four-track psychedelic noodling of their debut EP, "California Demise," to their stunning Giant Day EP, to their groundbreaking double record, Dusk at Cubist Castle. With brief blasts of divergent sounds, OTC peppers the compilation with the collages of experimental noise and indulgent multitracking that have become their trademark. However, the record's best moments occur when the band members stop fiddling with their knobs and simply play the amazing psychedelic pop gems that they seemingly toss off at will. With its ringing guitar refrain, "Love Athena" almost sounds like the Flaming Lips, while "Fireplace" and "Beneath the Climb" sound like missing tracks from the Meat Puppets' acid-drenched best. OTC's fixation with '60s psychedelia is evident on "I'm Not Human" and "A Sunshine Fix," which play like lo-fi outtakes from the Beach Boys' Smile sessions. Likewise, the songs from The Giant Day EP manage the seemingly impossible task of evoking both Harry Nilsson's The Point! and Pink Floyd's Ummagumma. Singles shouldn't serve as an introduction to OTC, as the bursts of brilliance are too random and ephemeral for the uninitiated. But to OTC fans, it will be an invaluable addition to their collection. --Paul Ducey

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Love Athena
  2. Today I Lost A Tooth
  3. California Demise Pt. 1
  4. California Demise Pt. 2
  5. A Sunshine Fix
  6. Fireplace
  7. Collage #1
  8. Beneath The Climb
  9. I Won This Dog At The Driftwood Reunion Carnival
  10. Christmas With William S.
  11. The Giant Day
  12. Shaving Spiders
  13. The Princess Turns The Key To Cubist Castle (Curtain Call Pt. 1&2)
  14. Curtain Call Pt. 3
  15. I'm Not Feeling Human
  16. The Giant Day (Dusk)
  17. Late Music 2
  18. Gypsum Oil Field Fire
  19. King Of The Claws
  20. The Ships

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 8, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: August 8, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Emperor Norton
  • ASIN: B00004U03Z
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,771 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Unlike the two proper studio albums that OTC put out, this is merely a collection of odds and sods, including songs from their "Giant Day" EP and other early songs that didn't make it to albums. It's not a collection of "singles" in the traditional sense of "hits." And a lot of the album consists of stuff that qualifies as more "beyond" than "single."
Gone are the multiple layers of instrumentation. Gone is the cohesiveness and flow. This is just a bunch of early songs and sound experiments, with decidedly mixed results.
Track by track:
1. Love Athena -- best song on the album. Great power-chord track.
2. Today I Lost A Tooth -- a 1:18 minute track with spare instrumentation. It's about as big of a deal as its title.
3 & 4. California Demise 1 & 2 -- Forget your memory of the great California Demise 3 from Black Foliage. These two earlier songs consist of a simple chord progression, a few backwards guitars, and "ooo ba ba nya nya nya" serving as the lyrics.
5. A Sunshine Fix -- I like this one. A bit ominous sounding. Cool brass line. Sort of a carnival-sounding break after the verses.
6. Fireplace -- I dig this one a lot. It really sounds like a great lost psychedelic song from '68.
7. Collage #1 -- Fun with tape loops and random studio knob-twiddling. Program your CD player around this.
8. Beneath The Climb -- starts with the spoken word "Apples." And it sounds like an Apples In Stereo song. Very poppy. Has a bit of a Thirteenth Floor Elevators jug sound in the background at certain points.
9. I Won This Dog At The Dirtwood... -- lasts a little over a minute. Nothing special.
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Format: Audio CD
Lo-fi fuzz-pop. Experimental soundscape. Even a little rock'n'roll. Olivia Tremor Control has them all in "Presents Singles & Beyond," a collection of assorted singles. It lacks the cohesion that makes the full LPs such a marvelous listen, but taken alone it's still a good collection.

It kicks off with lo-fi pop in "Love Athena," before switching to the weird ballad "Today I Lost A Tooth," and the acoustic guitar duo "California Demise 1 & 2." But soon they switch into darker turf -- a bizarrely gritty "Fireplace" and the sputteringly melodic "Collage 1," which resonates with computerized notes and squeals.

After that, there's no stopping them: lo-fi pop, eerie experimental numbers, morbid rock. "The Giant Day" is something that few Olivia Tremor Control songs are -- danceable and hookish. Then it's the roiling lo-fi grind of "Shaving Spiders," backed up by what sounds like a cracking whip. It ends on an appropriately eerie note with the electronic-warped ballad "The Ships."

Olivia Tremor Control is the symphony of indie rock -- sprawling, complex, and thoroughly beautiful. And taken individually, each song in "Presents Singles and Beyond" is enjoyable at worst, outstanding at best. Even the rough, lo-fi stuff sounds meticulously put together.

The flaw? Olivia Tremor Control is best listened to as a sprawling sonic experience, each song complementing what comes before and after. "Singles and Beyond" doesn't do that. They feel like a handful of beautiful mosaic beads strung together randomly -- still pretty, but not as pretty as they would be if they were carefully arranged.

But musically this can't be faulted. There are one or two less-than-astounding songs, like the rather dull "California Demise" songs.
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By A Customer on April 3, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Olivia Tremor Control's Singles and Beyond is an excellent sampler of the differents sides of this Elephant 6 superstar. Included on this disc are some of the psychedelic pop gems that the band is known for, as well as some "noise" tracks. While the noise may not be for everyone, the pop tunes will sound amazing to almost any ear. Keep in mind however, that this is a reissue of some early material. Part of the magic of this band is that their albums are basically incredible home recordings, and this is no exception, yet this collection documents an era when the Olivia's were still mastering their craft. To those who don't enjoy lo-fi multitrack recordings, this is not for you. For all serious fans of the genre, this album is definately a must own. Included on this collection are some of my favorite OTC tracks to date (Love Athena, The Curtain Call trilogy, The Giant Day, Gypsum Oil Field Fire, etc.)
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Format: Audio CD
"Singles and Beyond" is the only OTC album currently in print in US, and therefore will wind up being the first and maybe only OTC album in new fans' collections. I only got into Olivia recently, by way of Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal, so I was left with little choice but to buy Singles while waiting to find imports or collectible versions of the two "real" albums. That said, Singles is pretty enjoyable in its own right. As befits an Elephant 6 band (THE Elephant 6 band, some would say) for every moment of lo-fi pop-perfection, there are moments (sometimes no less compelling) of Eno-esque nob-twiddling. Also, even in this collection of early work, there seems to be the trademark oblique narratives and themes that exist in many E6 albums--- childhood dreams, fractured memories, fantastic worlds within worlds--- which bind it together as a coherent whole. It is best listened to as an album, start to finish. The melodies are often incredibly infectious and also ragged. This is shambolic, experimental pop of the highest order.
However, having heard the two proper OTC albums, I must say they are both vastly superior and more thematically coherent. So, only start with Singles if you have no other choice.
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