Though its heyday has passed, the legacy of the psych-pop collective Elephant 6 has been preserved through classic records by Neutral Milk Hotel, The Apples in Stereo and The Olivia Tremor Control. Off the radar for years, Elephant 6 has recently attached its logo to a few new releases—and now comes the second album from Circulatory System, the post-Olivia Tremor Control work of Will Cullen Hart and collaborators.
Signal Morning is long overdue (the band's self-titled debut came out in 2001), yet it's instantly recognizable. It opens with the effects-swirled "Woodpecker Greeting Worker Ant," featuring the familiar harmonizing competing with shuddering distortion. Featuring every member of Hart's former band, this is a bit like déjà vu. It also re-establishes the trademark Elephant 6 sound: poppy, curtained with fuzz, casually orchestral and bursting with ideas. Specific instruments aren't always identifiable, and the 17 tracks have only the haziest outlines. At times, the band is restless to a fault: The pop promise of both "The Breathing Universe" and "I You We" fades after about a minute. Beginners might be baffled by it all, but Elephant 6 fans have come to expect such ceaseless tinkering and intermittent flashes of genius.