by Kieran Smyth
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Neutral Milk Hotel
Elephant 6 (1997)
Neutral Milk Hotel released an album called In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, which is known as the most influential indie album of all time.
According to the sleeve of this record, Neutral Milk Hotel is a Fuzz-Folk band from Athens, Georgia. The band consists of Jeff Mangum (guitar and vocals), Jeremy Barnes (drums and organ), Scott Spillane (trumpet, flugelhorn, and trombone), and Julian Koster (singing saw, wandering genie, bowed banjo, and accordion). This particular album has more featured musicians and, needless to say, plenty of instrumentation.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was recorded by Elephant 6 recording company, which is, according to Wikipedia, a company that is run by members and friends of Neutral Milk Hotel. The Album was recorded in 1997 over the course of three months, which is quite a short amount of time to write and record an album.
This album is unique and many ways. Perhaps the thing that stands out most in this album is lead singer Jeff Mangum’s voice. On track such as the eighth, called Oh Comely, his loud screams and long notes make your throat sore just listening to them. Mangum’s psychedelic writing style is also an important aspect of this album because it keeps you guessing as to what the song is about and what will happen next, such as on the seventh track, Communist Daughter, when Mangum repeat the words, “Semen stains the mountains tops,” over and over again. Aside from Jeff’s vocals, the instrumentation on this album is exceptional, especially on the fifth track called The Fool. This track has no vocal and is mainly focused on Scott Spillane’s horn playing. Aside from its beautiful instrumentation, the album is extremely energetic on tracks such as Holland, 1945, when the entire track comes to a noisy climax and each instrument is played as loud and as hard as possible.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is significant because it is one of the first of its kind. The album single-handedly changed modern folk music for generations to come. It is often recognized as the best indie album ever made, and with good reason. Each song, after listening to the album for a long time, gives a certain sentimental feeling that can’t be felt by listening to many other albums. It is as though each song is a room in your old home, and as you enter each room it evokes different memories; some beautiful and happy, and some sad.
I give this album a ten out of ten. It has left me in tears several times; sometimes happy tears and sometimes sad. It is a superb album that should be heard by anyone that enjoys beautiful art. After all, it is widely known as the most influential indie album of all time.