Okay, let’s get it out of the way: Jeff Mangum plays on this record. There’s the ultra-reclusive onetime Neutral Milk Hotel leader on ninth cut “Round Again.” It’s a cool tune, one of the two or three best on the sprawling, 17-track affair. But Mangum is drumming, not singing (and certainly not singing about Aeroplanes or the Sea), so his involvement goes down as another frustrating near-miss for indie legions perpetually praying for his re-emergence.
That said, Signal Morning, the second proper full-length from Olivia Tremor Control spin-off outfit Circulatory System, is no disappointment on the whole. Fans of skewed Elephant Six pop in general and Circulatory System’s self-titled 2001 debut specifically will find lots more unsettlingly distorted-yet-undeniably catchy sonic mayhem here—the sort that Lennon and McCartney might have jumbled together had they jammed and recorded while tripping on acid circa 1966. Neat stuff, but definitely not for everyone.
The closing title track sums it all up pretty nicely, opening with a stone-cold boogie groove, transitioning into more challenging stretches that layer what might be backward tape loops and the clamor of rattling dishware, then slowing waaay down for a brief, all-out weirdo plunge before its abrupt finish. Great fun, even if that wasn’t enough to draw one particular dude fully out from hibernation.