The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle

by Tim Sentz Rating:10 Release Date:1996-08-06
The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle
The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle

As a fan of the Olivia Tremor Control, most fit under two modes of thought: those who believe that Dusk At Cubist Castle is their best work; and those who believe Black Foliage: Animation Music is their best work. Neither side is wrong; both works are perfect for very different reasons. The Olivia Tremor Control existed only for a moment it seems – eight short years that only saw two proper albums released, but a slew of EPs, singles, and compilations. It’s a shame because their two proper albums are bold game changers for indie rock in the 90s.

Dusk At Cubist Castle is essentially two records in one. The first half ends with “Marking Time” and the second half begins with the 10-track long “Green Typewriters.” Diving into the first half is a history lesson in psych-pop – OTC laid the groundwork that would be often inspiring to the likes of Tame Impala, Elf Power, The Unicorns, and of course The Apples in Stereo. Cubist Castle sprinkles the first 11 cuts with just enough Beatle-esque melodies to make you think you’ve travelled back in time. From the opening “The Opera House” and its garage rock riff, the late Bill Doss delivering the memorable chorus “You make the choice,” over and over. The OTC wore their influences strongly on their sleeves but that was never an issue. They pay homage to those brands of pop-rock but also created something wholly unique to them.

“Jumping Fences” is White Album Lennon, with vivid imagery from the lyrics, stands as one of the OTC’s most popular songs, but my favorite cut has always been “No Growing (exegesis)” with its balladeering middle, and Doss’ hopeful lyrics. Plus, it leads perfectly into “Holiday Surprise 1,2,3” another classic OTC track that extends beyond 6 minutes – a surprise indeed considering most of the songs on Dusk At Cubist Castle range from 1 to 3 minutes. Up to this point, things have been mostly sunshine pop, but nearing the 4-minute mark OTC groove into a psychedelic riff, with Doss delivering another earworm chorus “Don’t you ever change your mind” with warped effects in the back.  “Courtyard” brings things down for a second and throws back to pre-creative sprint for the Beatles – think more around Revolver. “Ooohs” and “Ahhs” over an elegant piano, it’s a group of friends having a grand old time recording one of indie rock's most revered albums from the 90s.

“Can You Come Down With Us?” is where you start to realize this record is about to change drastically. It’s a Ty Segall-ish droney cut, like something you’d hear from Goodbye Bread. If you were wondering how Doss and William Cullen Hart were going to fill the rest of the record, “Green Typewriters” is the answer. Spanning over 23 minutes, and separated across 10 tracks, “Green Typewriters” is the most compelling thing the Olivia Tremor Control ever did. It starts simply, like what you’d expect from them up to this point, but it spirals into this freakout – it tosses the conventions of typical songwriting out the window, and essentially Sgt. Pepper’s the center of the album. They somehow manage to cram the entire influence of the Beatles latter albums into this 23-minute epic, with “IV” being an homage to “Revolution” and then there’s an almost 10 minute track that’s just ambient sounds, with faint organs and water drips.  

The shelf life of Olivia Tremor Control was short, but their impact was felt, even if it was much later. Their hybrid of psych-pop and 60s experimentation was bewildering at the time, but it can be traced forward in so many different groups and scenes today. With the passing of Doss in 2012, it seems unlikely we’ll get another round, but it’s kept alive through various other projects – Hart went on to take that 60s sound to the Apples in Stereo, who have released several records over the years, but never quite breaking that glass ceiling that impedes dynamic bands of this nature. Furthermore, they lack the cohesiveness that Olivia Tremor Control possessed.  

Dusk At Cubist Castle remains a landmark album of the 90s, even if it goes years without being heard, there’s always someone who will pick it up and transcend into that kaleidoscope of thrills that Dusk brings. The album closes with a prickly guitar cut “NYC – 25,” an ode to the cities blank stares and isolation. It’s a fitting end to an album that’s incorporated so many styles and influences – much like a city, with its bustling traffic, and hordes of people with different ideas, dreams, fears, and motivations. Dusk At Cubist Castle didn’t change the world, and it didn’t intend to. But it’s a crisp document of homage and genre-blending that hasn’t aged a day.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
Related Articles
The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Eric Bachmann - No Recover
  • 08/20/2018
  • By Tim Sentz
The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Ovlov - Tru
  • 07/17/2018
  • By Tim Sentz
The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
GUM - The Underdog
  • 04/08/2018
  • By Rob Taylor
The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Scent - Kim
  • 11/27/2017
  • By D R Pautsch