(Happy Happy Birthday To Me, 2000)
Black Swan Network had previously existed as a side vehicle for the Olivia Tremor Control to fully indulge its avant-garde leanings (collages, field recordings, drones), but here there’s a song-based approach that sticks closer to the parent group’s sound than did past BSN releases. Interestingly, the listed lineup is all of the Olivia Tremor Control minus Bill Doss, which is essentially what would become the Circulatory System by the following year – so really this EP is, in terms of personnel and musical ideas, a bridge between the OTC and the Circulatory System. Without input from the sunny Doss, it’s darker and druggier than Dusk at Cubist Castle or Black Foliage, while still utilizing the fragmented, cut-and-paste pop style heard on those discs. This is a tentative step towards the first Circulatory album; the basic elements are all in place (even lyrically), there just isn’t the dense, hyper-layered production yet. “Grains and Sauces” is a suitably psychedelic opener, with tape loops, tinkling xylophone, and that familiar clarinet over a groovy drumbeat. The rest of the record is crawling, clattering dream-music that keeps picking up and falling apart, Will Hart’s breathy vox swooping in from time to time to anchor a song. It’s an intriguing listen, and quite jam-packed for a 45; obscure as all heck, but worth finding if you can. Supposedly exists with a black cover as well.