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When the Red King Comes

Elf Power

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Album Review

As the Elephant 6 catalog continues to expand, it becomes increasingly obvious that many of the label's bands are concerned not merely with creating fresh and exciting music but rather entire mythologies, crafting obscure concept records exploring the intricacies of strange pocket universes. Existing in the musical gray area between Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel — both of whose members make cameos here — Elf Power's superb When the Red King Comes is a heady journey to a psychedelic utopia, a travelogue with such destinations as "The Secret Ocean," "The Separating Fault," and "The Silver Lake." As imagined primarily by singer/songwriter Andrew Rieger, the album is a odyssey "Into the Everlasting Time," and true to its word, it seems to exist outside of any obvious era — the fuzzy, lo-fi production is an Elephant 6 hallmark, but the unique instrumentation (electric horns, pump organs, even Nepalese percussion) and cryptic, stream-of-consciousness wordplay suggest something altogether different; perhaps most telling is When the Red King Comes' cover, a crazed map suggesting something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien fever dream.

Biography

Formed: 1994 in Athens, GA

Genre: Rock

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

The Athens, Georgia-based Elf Power emerged as part of the second wave of bands linked to the Elephant 6 Recording Company collective, a coterie of like-minded lo-fi indie groups — including the Apples (In Stereo), Neutral Milk Hotel, and the Olivia Tremor Control — who shared musicians, ideas, and sensibilities. Formed by singers/multi-instrumentalists Andrew Rieger and Laura Carter, Elf Power debuted in 1995 with the self-released Vainly Clutching at Phantom Limbs, followed a year later...
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When the Red King Comes, Elf Power
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