US - Colorado - Full Moon 88 - 12/08/03
All I want for Xmas is an Elephant 6 kit!
Well, yes, I know that the Elephant 6 collective is history. But I also know the phrase 'history
repeats'. So, even though I don't believe in Mr. Santa I still have this hope of getting to see
flowering future releases holding the splendid Elephant 6 Recordig Co. stamp of quality. In spirit
as well has the hand-drawn E6 logo. Am I a daydream believer?
It's now over a year since the official news of the split of E6. And, this summer it was 10 years
since the first Elephant 6 release, Apples in Stereo's Tidal Wave EP. A long history done
short is that when Robert Schneider, Jeff Mangum, Will Cullen Hart, and Bill Doss grew and befriended
each other in Ruston, Louisiana, they created band projects and started to put out recordings.
Firstly as private cassette releases, then "for real" on vinyl and CDs.
Robert Schneider got his The Apples
in Stereo started; Will Cullen Hart, Bill Doss and Jeff Mangum got the The Olivia Tremor
Control up and running (flying, floating...), before Mangum left and "opened" his Neutral
Milk Hotel. These three bands have put out recordings other bands/artists could have (should
have/would have) died for. Albums "shining" as eternal underground classics. The Olivia Tremor
Control (OTC) and Neutral Milk Hotel
(NMH) have dissolved and will probably never resurrect again, but The Apples in Stereo (AiS) is
going on fine as ever. OTC and NMH put out 2 albums each in their time, while AiS have reached
their 4th (or 5th counting the mini Her Wallpaper Reverie of 1999). All of these are curricular.
Read and learn!
The Elephant 6 label has been sort of a fantasy label, or umbrella for all the bands involved
or related to the so called family. The label it-self did only put out less than 20 items (not
including the impossible to find tapes), and most of those were singles. Then there were a lot of
other labels contributing on releases with E6, like SpinART releaseing AiS records, Merge the NMH
albums, and Flydaddy making sure the OTC hit the back alleys of pop. Then there's other labels
like Kindercore and Happy Happy Birthday To Me (who both ran their singles clubs some three years
back), Emperor Norton, Orange Twin and Cloud Recordings.
I mentioned the E6 curriculum - the obelisks of blissful psychedelicious pop and innovative,
weird'n'wonderful brass rock. OTC's Music From The Unrealized Film Script "Dusk At Cubist Castle"
(-96) and Black Foliage: Amination Music
volume 1 (-99) - both released as double vinyl albums. Then you have AiS's (-95), Tone Soul Evolution
(-97), The Discovery of a World Inside the
Moone (-00), and last year's The
Velocity of Sound. Last but not least NMH's On Avery Island (1996), and the a-w-e-s-o-m-e
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998). The latter, Robert Schneider-produced LP is one of
the best albums of the 1990s. Without any doubt at all. There are also some interesting
compilations out preserving the hard to find single stuff (such as OTC's Singles and Beyond),
and AiS's Science Faire). I think we deserve this promised NMH compilation quite soon or
So, now then? Schneider and his AiS are still active. He's also put out music as the Marbles
(check the album Pyramid Landing (And other favorites)), and has now got two up-coming
projects: ulysses, plus Orchestra Fantastique (collaborating with Andy P. of XTC!)
Jeff Mangum hasn't been up to much, except releasing the charming
Live at Jittery Joe's, plus a mysterious
Orange Twin Field Works - Vol. 1 (a collage of music recorded in Bulgaria by Jeff Mangum).
Oh, yes, he's also contributed on some of his friends' records. Will Curren Hart has got his excellent
The Circulatory System (The Circulatory
System is amazing!), doing more of his dark, spiraling pop OTC style. Bill Doss continues his
own, long-time side project Sunshine Fix, presenting a more lighter (but not easier) pop music
(check the Age of the Sun album).
Extended family? Yes, the family tree is huge, with spins-offs and related musical projects all
over. Check Major Organ And The Adding Machine, which is almost the entire bunch gathered. And
The Minders, Beulah, the Gerbils, and the Music Tapes. Or Elf Power, Of Montreal, Essex Green, and
the Ladybug Transistor. So, to all of you believing in Santa: start making a looong list.
Hmmmm...maybe I should put up a list myself... a bit curious on that Little Fyodor & Babushka CD,
Dance Of The Salted Slug...
Links and sources: join in on the Elephant 6 Townhall
to find info or discuss everything you want to discuss about E6. Visit the very good unofficial
site with loads of info. Or try out resources like MAGNET
magazine, The Ptolemaic Terrascope, or
Copyright © 2003 Håvard Oppøyen