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1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad

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Album Review

The most whimsical extension of the Elephant Six collective, the Music Tapes take the concept of lo-fi to an arty extreme, using vintage recording equipment and found sounds to create brittle psych-pop. An 1895 Edison wax cylinder recorder, a wire recorder from the '40s, and reel-to-reel and cassette tapes give the Music Tapes' first album First Imaginary Symphony for Nomad a heavily distressed and textured sound that becomes poignant on songs like "Aliens," which boasts an arrangement that includes guitar, theremin, French horn, tambourine, and several layers of evocative fuzz. The Elephant Six Orchestra is also used well on "What the Single Made the Needle Sing" and "The Clapping Hands." While the nasal, off-key singing on most of the songs distracts from the fragile beauty of the music (especially on "Song of the Nomad Lost" and "An Orchistration's Overture"), First Imaginary Symphony for Nomad is a warts-and-all record, giving equal time to successful and not-so successful musical experiments.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Though the Music Tapes are seen primarily as a spinoff from the Elephant 6 music collective, which includes bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, the Olivia Tremor Control, and the Apples in Stereo, they began as the brainchild of Julian Koster. As a 16-year-old, Koster conceived of his early recordings, like the "Silly Putty Symphony" as a surreal soundworld to escape into and share with friends. This motivation also fueled Koster's band at the time, Chocolate U.S.A., which eventually evolved into the...
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1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad, The Music Tapes
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