THE OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL: Black Foliage (2LP, Flydaddy BRRC1005781, 1999)

The Olivia Tremor Control - Black Foliage

Some time ago, in the midst of my letter-writing exploits of the past, I regularly corresponded with a guy called Simon who was at university in, as I recall, Bristol. I’d first been in touch as he’d put out some weird and wonderful fanzines, and he in turn ordered some of mine, and we struck up a postal friendship that often included trading cassettes of stuff that we were into at the time. He provided me with a lot of really good stuff – anything from Aphex Twin’s I Care Because You Do to my first exposure to Can and, indeed, the recorded output of Leonard Nimoy. Yes, this was home-taping at its most illegal, but rather than killing music it sprung me into action to find out (and purchase) records by these people. Simon also provided me with the first CDR of music I’d ever been given, which was very exciting and futuristic back in the swirling mists of the early ’00s when the CD player in my hi-fi was generally unused, save for the odd Christmas gift of a Jon Spencer CD here and a Pebbles box set there.

On that CDR, which I retain to this day (and still listen to) was a wide mix of out-there music, which included a track by The Olivia Tremor Control that stood out as a particularly weird, freaked-out take on 1960s psychedelia of the Fifty Foot Hose/Silver Apples ilk. A couple of years later I chanced upon Black Foliage in a second-hand store somewhere and thought, after being exposed to just that one track of this band’s music before, that here would be an album that finally took centre stage as the ultimate psychedelic music. Well, it’s not quite that – it’s great, if somewhat sprawling and less whacked-out than I had expected, but it still leaves me looking for the ultimate head-trip album to jettison me into the stratosphere. Any hints?

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