Olivia Tremor Control: Dusk At Cubist Castle (1996)

Starting around the mid-90s, one of my favorite developments in indie rock was the rise of the Elephant 6 collective, a bunch of loosely-affiliated bands who shared members and produced each other's albums, toured together, and a had a general affinity for the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd (though this underplays the variety in their work).  The Apples in Stereo were the bubbly power pop band; Neutral Milk Hotel was the home of reclusive genius Jeff Mangum's indescribable, experimental indie rock; and the Olivia Tremor Control delved deep into a retro-psychedelic (yet still poppy) vibe. (Which isn't to give short shrift to the many other great bands associated with the movement, many of whom are still around, i.e. Elf Power, Of Montreal, Dressy Bessy...)

OTC's 1996 masterpiece (full title: Music From The Unrealized Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle) is one of the best-recorded works by any of these artists, an eclectic, flowing psychedelic exploration that manages to be trippy while still chock full of pop hooks and delirious harmonies. Plenty of highlights, from the pure pop of "Jumping Fences" and "Courtyard" to the dreamy psychedelia of "Define a Transparent Dream," "Marking Time," and "Can You Come Down With Us," as well as more ambitious suites like "Holiday Surprise."

In the center of the album is a long, multi-part suite, "Green Typewriters," which best as I can tell seeks to emulate an acid trip; it's weird and sprawling and messy, then gently comes back down to earth. The rest of the album flags a bit after that, though it closes on a high note with the lovely, harmonic "NYC-25."

The band's two leaders went their separate ways after one more album; Will Cullen Hart released a few albums as The Circulatory System, and Bill Doss as The Sunshine Fix, both of which tried to recreate the OTC sound but not quite capturing the magic. They later regrouped for a few shows before Doss's untimely passing.

Here's some post-reunion live footage of "Jumping Fences":
 ...and "Define a Transparent Dream":