Oh happy, happy day! The gods of psychedelia have bestowed a blessing upon us. “The Game You Play Is In Your Head, Parts 1, 2, 3” is a new track from the Olivia Tremor Control, and it bears all the classic hallmarks of one of the most prolific and enigmatic psych-pop outfits to emerge from mid ’90s Athens, Ga. and the Elephant 6.
Elephant 6 belonged (or rather, belongs) to what’s now legend in alternative music memory—as the music collective and recording label responsible for the constantly shifting lineups of bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, The Apples in Stereo, The Sunshine Fix and, of course, OTC. But now, even with the Carmen Sandiego of indie rock, notoriously elusive Jeff Mangum, making a performing comeback, bringing up the term “Elephant 6” again is a delicate matter. In an interview published by NPR this morning, OTC frontman Will Cullen Hart admitted that part of the reason the band decided to take a decade-long hiatus was because of the “E6 backlash,” the massive media hype surrounding the E6 in the late 1990s:
E6 was referenced in magazines all the time, and we thought, “Wow, this is kind of becoming a tag word or something.” We were getting referenced way too much, and I think people started getting sick of the whole E6 idea. That’s one of the reasons we decided to take our hiatus. We started [the label] Cloud Recordings. But E6 is more important to me now than ever, after all these years. It was just over-hyped back then. You know, “the Elephant 6 sound.” But now I love it. [NPR]
“The Game You Play” is the first new music the band has released since their last 1999 studio album, Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume 1. In typical Olivia fashion, it’s got abrupt transitions, (there are at least three miniature songs in the one track), swelling, layered vocals, and just the right amount of noise to elevate the song’s pop melodies to a whole new realm of dynamism and texture. You can listen to the new track here and compare it to one of their golden oldies off of Music From the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle (1996), embedded for your listening pleasure below.