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.