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January 5, 2003

Elephant Six Orgy

WHRB (Harvard's radio station) is playing every release from the Elephant 6 Recording Company, starting at 10 p.m. Monday, January 6th through 6 a.m the next morning. From the press release:

In 1991, Robert Schneider asked future bandmate Jim McIntyre a simple question: "I asked him what kind of music he liked and in the heyday of grunge he thought a safe way to end the conversation would be to tell me his favorite band was the Beach Boys. Little did he know I was a certified lifelong Beach Boys nut and the conversation picked up after that...." So did the Elephant Six Recording Company.

Until its demise in October 2002, this record label and collective was the driving force in psychedelic pop, a sound that mixes the paisley mid-to-late Sixties groove of the Beatles, the rich texture of a Pink Floyd album in the Seventies, and the lo-fi dissonance of early Nineties rock. Started by a group of childhood friends in Athens, Georgia, with some college acquaintances picked up along the way, Elephant Six was originally a forum for the label's founders to release their own material. Their first release, in 1993, was also the first release by the Apples in Stereo, Schneider's own band and arguably the label's most successful outfit.

Elephant Six quickly went on to release the first records from other seminal psych-pop bands including Neutral Milk Hotel and the Olivia Tremor Control, both of which contained members who started the label itself. Then, Elf Power, Of Montreal, and Beulah jumped on the E6 bandwagon in addition to many like-minded groups across the country. Many of these bands went on to sign record deals with bigger labels such as Spin Art and, more recently, Orange Twin, but the Elephant Six spirit of collaboration and distinct sound remains. Indeed, the retro Fillmore East-style Elephant Six stamp graced the critically acclaimed Neutral Milk Hotel release, "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" despite its release on indie powerhouse Merge Records.

This timely orgy will feature everything that has been released directly by the Elephant Six Recording Company, from their privately released early cassette tapes to their latest more massively distributed releases. Through it, we will pay homage to a collective that was at once nostalgic for the flower-power era and eager to create its aesthetic in the crowded post-punk era. Officially they are no more. But, as their website asserts, "Elephant Six is not dead."


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