Elephant Micah aka Joe O’Connell is an artist I was hugely excited to discover. The multi-instrumentalist from Indiana writes and sings proper songs, the type that make you catch your breath, cry or smile wryly to yourself. Considerately and poetically penned and – although experimental in parts – they possess an old fashioned gravity.
As a musical entity Elephant Micah spans over a decade, from the debut LP Low Energy Dance Music in 2002 to the latest endeavour Globe Rush Progressions. Here Joe talks about an intriguing influence, notorious acid house pioneers The KLF and their classic album Chill Out, recorded live in 1989.
Elephant Micah Plays…KLF ‘Chill Out’
I was doing some free-form internet searching on “ambient music.” I wanted to know what albums people consider to be part of the “ambient” canon. A citation of the KLF caught my attention. Is this the same 1990s pop group that set fire to a million pounds sterling? My focus shifted entirely to the KLF—their ideas, their antics, and their music. The group’s story continues to hold my attention.
Chill Out belongs to a tradition of club music for relaxation and repose, styled in contrast with dance music itself. The KLF designates the sheep as Chill Out totem animal. Sheep occupy the album cover, resting at pasture, and the early moments of the album audio, bleating in a call-and-response with their human shepherd. In addition to appreciating this album as a work of sound collage (mixed live from mostly pre-recorded sources), I take interest in it as a kind of “techno pastoral”—an idealization of the countryside by electronic musicians.
Check it out the album here:
You can listen to Joe’s most recent Elephant Micah release ‘Globe Rush Progressions’ below, ‘Marie’s Hair’, ‘Ever Greener’ and the jingle bell tinkling ‘Jesus Christ’ are my personal highlights.
I’m also a huge fan of this collaboration with Hiss Golden Messenger…
…and this track from 2012 release Louder Than Thou. If that’s not enough to make you buy the entire backcatalogue more fool you.