Eight years have passed since its first album, and Circulatory System is back with its sophomore release, a hectic and sonically dense collection that pushes the band's experimental side to the forefront.
Will Cullen Hart again occupies the center of the Circulatory System. Instead of overpowering the music, the story behind the album—recorded steadily over seven years in seven different studios while Hart was battling multiple sclerosis—becomes a helpful guide to the spacey Signal Morning, which oscillates between disconcerting and comforting.
The album has a turbulence that roughens up the poppier elements of Hart's songwriting that were more prevalent on Circulatory System and with his previous project, the Olivia Tremor Control, an original Elephant 6 band. Signal Morning's more subdued tracks, like "Tiny Concerts" and "The Breathing Universe," most recall the eccentric beauty of the band's 2001 self-titled debut.
The album skips quickly along, with songs mostly shorter than three minutes, many of which feel like collages of atmospheric sounds, collected and repurposed by Hart into deep layers of background decorations. The longer songs—like "Round Again" and "Particle Parades"—find more balance between the experimental and the captivating, catchy psychedelic rock that's been the hallmark of the E6 collective of bands.
While there's little to suggest that Hart crafted Signal Morning as his "M.S. record," there's a deep sense of questioning and longing at the album's core, a quest to find one's place in a universe filled with alienation and weirdness.