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Circulatory System - Signal Morning

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Artist: Circulatory System

Album: Signal Morning

Label: Cloud Recordings

Review date: Sep. 16, 2009

Brevity is the soul of many things. Wit just crowds the limelight. And Signal Morning’s most immediate quality is its length, or lack there of. Brevity itself isn’t always a virtue, but when it’s in the service of being conceptually and aesthetically manageable, it certainly is. There are sprawling artworks and massive musical projects that require time and energy and cognitive capital, but in many cases this sprawl can be a detriment to a piece of art, something that definitely hurts Olivia Tremor Control’s albums, as well as Will Cullen Hart’s first Circulatory System LP.

Hart’s tendency for protractedness most likely comes out of the kind of music he makes. Psyche-pop is a form driven by an internal contradiction, and the way OTC wrote their albums, as singular aesthetic experiences, there was always this tension between the ‘artier’ elements and the elements that were pure fun. This isn’t to say that sound collages aren’t fun, but they tend to be more intellectual than visceral, and what pop’s always been good at is making anything visceral. Those OTC albums move from music to sounds to hybrids in a way that’s both disconcerting and completely natural. And over 60 or 75 minutes, it can grow wearying.

Signal Morning isn’t radically different in content from any of Hart’s other albums, but the fact that it’s at least 20 minutes shorter makes it feel like something quite different: more ephemeral, more something that needs to be taken in immediately, not background music to catch here and there.

It seems trivial for album length to be the crux of what makes Signal Morning work, but with one’s attention less spread out, less diluted, Hart’s musical strategy becomes that much more powerful. It’s the old showbiz adage: always leave ‘em wanting more.

By Andrew Beckerman

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