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Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle
Olivia Tremor Control
Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Soundtracks
  •  Track Listings (27) - Disc #1


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All Artists: Olivia Tremor Control
Title: Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Cloud Recordings
Release Date: 2/3/2004
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Soundtracks
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 656605650326

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CD Reviews

A Transparent Dream: Psychedelic, Ambient, Dear Prudence, No
Wendell Chancellor | Utah | 12/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Geez. I was forty-four years old. For twenty years (and more) I had been trying to re-create the moment when I first listened to Talking Heads' "Speaking in Tongues." "Dusk at Cubist Castle" had arrived that day. The wife and kids gathered around the boom box in the kitchen. "Let's check this out."

What I heard I was not prepared to digest--psychedelic, ambient, dear prudence, noise, pet sounds, beatles, pop, . . . transparent dream. I didn't have a category for this . . . and I still don't. But that night "Dusk at Cubist Castle" convinced me that music wasn't dead (as I had come to almost believe).

In the wake of that night, the Olivia Tremor Contral has ruined most other music for me. And here is why.

1. "Dusk at Cubist Castle" took me to a place I had never been before. A unique and new listening experience: I haven't gotten much of that from other artists before or since.

2. There is an artistic vision in the work. Sure the vision isn't as consistent in "Dusk at Cubist Castle" as it is in "Black Foliage," but it is there. The vision of most artist doesn't extend much beyond trying to get me to open my wallet and buy their stuff.

3. The work is generous. On listen after listen, "Dusk at Cubist Castle" continues to speak to me. It is layered and complex and is therefore able to give something over time. This is one standard of good art: with each viewing or listen it speaks to you. Most art has said all it has to say in one glimpse, in one listen.

4. It offers a rich sonic experience. I am sick to death of guitars, bass, and drums. In some sense that combination is in danger of playing itself out (the exception may be Spoon). "Dusk at Cubit Castle" creates a complex and unexpected landscape of sound.

So now I spend my time trying to re-create the experience of listening to "Dusk at Cubist Castle" for the first time. Here is what I have found that is worth mentioning: Olivia Tremor Control's "Black Foliage" (a stronger work); Circulatory System's eponymous CD; the Go! Team's "Thunder, Lightning, Strike"; Elf Power's "A Dream in Sound"; Dungen's "Ta Det Lugnt"; Manitoba's "Up in Flames"; and the Microphones' "The Glow Part 2"; All Night Radio's "Spirit, Radio, Frequency"; and, of course, Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea."

Check out "Dusk at Cubist Castle" and invite me over for the first listen."
Dusk at Cubist Castle as a Desert Island Pick
Chris G. | IL USA | 12/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If I truly ever was stranded on a desert island, with only my discman, a few choice Cds, and a life-time supply of batteries, 'Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle' 1996 debut album by The Olivia Tremor Control, would be one of the first albums that comes to mind, that I would want to take with me. There are not too many albums that I can think of in my musical library that brings a smile to my face, quite like this one does, every time I listen to it.
If you weren't familiar with OTC before listening to this, you would believe that this was a lost classic straight outta the '60s psyche era. A gorgeous album with textured beauty, and sonic passages that sends a mind-bending rush the listener's way, along with summer-shinin' melodies and eerie harmonies. You can sit back and sing along with choruses that take weeks to get out of your head (not that I would go that long w/o it), like in one of my favorite tracks, "Holiday Surprise 1,2,3"....Taking my time to waste your sunny day. Memorable images also stick in my brain, such as going to the opera house or the clouds being in past tense.
I have been familiar with bands off the Elephant 6 label before, like Neutral Milk Hotel and Apples in Stereo, but I have never heard anything quite like this, at least not from the 90s. I have heard The Circulatory System, which is lead vocalist Will Cullen Harts latest band, after The Olivia Tremor Control, before first hearing this.
Sure, the long instrumental passages from the "Green Typewriters" suite from track 12-21, may seem over-bearing and a bit too extensive, but not enough to effect this perfect 5 star rating. As my musical tastes progress, I feel that I was a bit too lenient giving 5 star ratings to pass reviews, oh well..
I do prefer this OTC debut over their 1999 album-'Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume 1' -which that sophomore release doesn't much feel like a happy slice of sunny pop, like this one does, and at 74 + minutes of sonic experimentation and catchy pop choruses, Dusk at Cubist Castle will remain one of my 'Top Shelf Albums' for years to come.
Kaleidoscopic collage of sweet pop and soundscapes.
Jonathan James Romley | Dublin, Ireland | 02/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Music from the Unrealised Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle, is a strange and disorientating album that is pitched halfway between 60's influenced neo-prog-psychedelia, and the more recognisable sound of mid-90's indie. It's certainly the most adventurous album released by any of the various Elephant 6 Collective offshoots, with The Olivia Tremor Control writing and recording 'Dusk...' over a period of three years, with a rolling line up of collaborators including Eric Harris, John Fernandes, Steve Jacobek, Nick Benjamin and Julian Koster, as well Neutral Milk Hotel leader Jeff Mangum on piano, slide-guitar and backing vocals, and the Apples in Stereo's Robert Schneider, who adds bass, melodica, backing vocals, as well as acting as the engineer and co-producer of the album as a whole. The nucleus of the band was Will Cullen Heart and Bill Doss, who here write, perform and produce the majority of the album, as well as adding the bizarre sketches and collages that make up the album's art work.

The album is a fantastic and endlessly fascinating combination of different styles, tempos, ideas and atmospherics, with the band taking on elements of early Pink Floyd, the Beach Boys and The Beatles to form the core backing of 60's trip-pop, alongside lingering traces of folk, krautrock, avant-garde expressionism, ambient noise, field recordings and the early hallmarks of a sound that would later become known as post-rock. As a result, every stylistic diversion seems perfectly judged, with the album creating that dreamy quality where songs distort and metamorphose into completely different songs, whilst repeated exposure eventually gives way to all manner of hidden sounds, voices, noises and motifs. Along with Neutral Milk Hotel's masterpiece, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, I'd cite Dusk at Cubist Castle as a more alternative take on the territory of Radiohead's celebrated OK Computer, with both albums sharing the same loose conceptual edge, bizarre and varied approach to musicianship, and a stark and jarring combination of dissonant noise blurring seamlessly with traditional rock and pop structures.

Like their follow up album Black Foliage, as well as related records like On Avery Island, Black Swan Network and Circulatory System, the songs on Dusk at Cubist Castle (as well as the album's subtitle, Music from the Unrealised Film Script) seems to suggest the idea of a concept... though what it is remains vague and fragmented by the stretches of surreal dreamlike lyrics, and the wild switches in style. The album even has a ten-song mini song cycle positioned in the middle of the album called Green Typewriters (which runs through tracks 12 to 22), which merges a variety of wild influences, including White Album-era Beatles and BBC field recording techniques, into one seamless sonic dreamscape. What it all means remains a mystery, though the All Music Guide suggests a story involving a pair of women named Olivia and Jacqueline, and a massive earthquake dubbed the California Demise... which makes sense, I suppose!!

The more you listen to the album, the more it takes a hold of you... At least half of the songs work as great pieces of pop, with the opening track The Opera House having a very modern style that is removed from the mock-60's referentialism of acts like the Apples in Stereo, The Dukes of Stratosphere and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Jumping Fences, Define a Transparent Dream, No Growing (Exegesis), Holiday Surprise 1-3 and Memories of Jacqueline 1906 are all fine pop songs that have a touch of the Dukes circa 25 O' Clock about them, whilst also managing to present remnants of a sound that is more interesting and unique. The sound collages work well too, adding a depth to the songs that surround them, whilst further highlighting the bizarre concept at hand. Unlike "real" progressive acts of the 60's and 70's, the Olivia Tremor Control never seem to be adding noise or bizarre instrumentation simply because they can... in fact, it mostly seems like the songs were written and envisioned this way to begin with.

They also don't let the concept get in the way of the album as something to listen to for entertainment and enjoyment, with most of the songs possessing strong melodies, interesting lyrics and a great performance (or as great as you can get when recording on a four-track in someone's living room!!). The lo-fi aesthetic works great here (as it did for Neutral Milk Hotel, who recorded in a similar fashion at roughly the same time), with the songs benefiting from the warm fuzz of the instruments and the slightly muffled vocals, which to me, gives the songs a sense of intimacy that jars against the exotic sounds and the expansive concept. After four or five listens, the album makes sense, and flows seamlessly from beginning to end (Hart and Doss clearly taking a lot of care in the way the songs and the album have been sequenced!!), with the diverse and disorientating sound of each song eventually creating a bizarre and dreamlike mood that flows brilliantly from beginning to end. Dusk at Cubist Castle, along with the follow up Black Foliage, remains a great and continually interesting album from a greatly underrated band, and along with gems like In the Aeroplane over the Sea, On Avery Island and Circulatory System, is a highlight of the esteemed Elephant 6 Collective."