Eight years is an eternity in the music world. The last eight in particular have been especially so, given how quickly things appear and fade anymore. Since Circulatory System released its self-titled debut in 2001, countless records, bands and even genres have come and gone and left behind nothing. Everything is fleeting and Now, with no regard for what comes next.
But Signal Morning is not a Now record; it is an Always record, temporally unfettered and presented not without regard for the future but with uncertainty as to whether it will come at all. It drifts through space and attempts to understand every part of the universe, from infinitesimal molecules and microbes to Earth and inestimably beyond.
The organic imagery is indeed a dominant thematic element of Signal Morning, which sprawls across the natural world but, most of all, feels immanently human. On an album rife with talk of trees and skies and sand and stone, the most salient feature is the speaker himself: a sometimes plaintive, sometimes achingly muddled but always sincere Will Cullen Hart.
In a lot of ways, this is just Circulatory System picking up where it left off, maintaining the obtuse, symbolic lyrics in nebulous tandem with the signature fuzzy production of its debut. As before, Circulatory System’s cosmic sensibilities are further embellished by the band’s ability to meander seamlessly from buzzing chainsaws of distortion to tinkling acoustic repose as well as its proficiency in balancing whatever sort of dominating guitar with strings and reeds and ubiquitous bits of perplexing sonic ephemera buried so far beneath.
Despite the urgency of its textures and sound collages, Signal Morning does nothing to predict or even anticipate the future. Instead, it offers a persistence and a permanence that simply welcomes it, not from resignation but from ambition.
Adam Clair is currently working on a book about the history and influence of the Elephant Six Recording Company.