Neutral Milk Hotel announce The Collected Works of Neutral Milk Hotel, a
box set out February 24th on Merge, and which includes the first
official release of the 2014 rendition of “Little Birds.” In
2011, bandleader Jeff Mangum collected nearly all of the band’s
recorded output in a limited-edition box set, which he self-released
under Neutral Milk Hotel Records, a small operation helmed by Mangum and
his mother. The expanded edition of The Collected Works of Neutral Milk
Hotel on Merge, the first & only edition widely available to record
stores, includes both of their iconic full-length albums, _In the
Aeroplane Over the Sea_ (in gatefold sleeve) & an expanded double LP
edition of On Avery Island. Also found in this set, a 12" picture disc
of Jeff Mangum's famous Live at Jittery Joe's performance, as well as
two 10-inch records (an extended version of the Everything Is EP w/ new
art & a collection of acoustic demos from 1992-1995 titled Ferris Wheel
on Fire). Then there are the 7"s for the previously mentioned Little
Birds, an updated edition of the _“__Holland, 1945” / “Engine”_
7" & _"__You've Passed / Where You'll Find Me Now"_ single. As for the
non-music collector goodies, the set also includes two 24" x 24" posters
& a 2-sided postcard not available anywhere else. The whole set is
assembled in a 12" two-piece telescoping casewrapped box (A slicker,
larger box than the original 2011 version). Excluding both full-length
albums, everything else included is exclusive to the box set & not
available as a standalone item.
The two full-length records that Jeff Mangum made as Neutral Milk Hotel
sound both in and out of time. Like translations of a shared
subconscious, 1996’s On Avery Island and 1998’s _In the Aeroplane
Over the Sea_ give voice to the perennial spirit of youthful epiphany,
of beginning to see the world clearly, to process and express it — no
matter when you encounter them. With lo-fi indie rock, accordion,
singing saw, tape collages, the so-called “zanzithophone” and
beyond, Neutral Milk Hotel created an eternal entry into their Elephant
6 scene and an enduring feeling of possibility.
The remastered 1994 7” Everything Is appears on 10” vinyl as the
extended EP that Mangum always envisioned, adding a few extra songs from
the period. Newly added to Everything Is, “Unborn” came from a tape
that Mangum made for Bill Doss (Olivia Tremor Control) while living in
Athens as they traded cassettes like audio letters, filled with songs,
field recordings, and conversation. These first unvarnished Neutral Milk
Hotel recordings tell the story of Mangum’s genesis as an artist with
a subcultural sound and subcultural values. Also included here is a
trio of 7” singles, one of which features early versions of the On
Avery Island songs “You’ve Passed” and “Where You’ll Find Me
Now” from 1994, recorded on four-track by Mangum on his own. Mangum
was initially going to record the whole album at home on a four-track
but soon realized that he would need the help of a friend, The Apples in
Stereo’s Robert Schneider, to produce. Mangum gave Schenider this
cassette (later rediscovered in a shoebox) in advance of those sessions.
The 10” EP Ferris Wheel on Fire, primarily recorded with Schneider in
2010, collects stray songs that Mangum had written many years prior but
never set to tape. (The exception is “My Dream Girl Don’t Exist,”
recorded live at Aquarius Records in San Francisco in the ‘90s.) In
the box set, Ferris Wheel is accompanied by a card denoting the year
that each song was written, helping to illustrate how the Neutral Milk
Hotel catalog took shape. Ferris Wheel’s “Oh Sister,” for
instance, was written on the same day as Aeroplane’s “Oh Comely.”
There’s a sense of music building in a world in which words, phrases,
images, and chord progressions echo and recur.
A final component of the box portrays that process viscerally: Live at
Jittery Joe’s, the live album recorded in 1997 that Mangum first
released in 2001. It captures Neutral Milk Hotel at its most profoundly
pivotal moment. After the release of On Avery Island in 1996 and a
subsequent tour, Mangum and his bandmates — Julian Koster, Jeremy
Barnes, and Scott Spillane — found themselves in New York’s West
Village where, in October of that year, Mangum wrote “Two-Headed
Boy.” The band was about to get kicked out of their apartment, and
soon headed south to regroup with friends in Athens. By that point, the
scene was in bloom. Olivia Tremor Control had released its debut LP; Elf
Power was playing. Athens was an easy and fruitful place to live and
create. Neutral Milk Hotel happily joined in, moving into a beautiful
house on Grady Street where Mangum continued to write In the Aeroplane
Over the Sea from January to May of 1997.
If the live recordings, alternate takes, and time stamps of this box set
illustrate the process of Neutral Milk Hotel’s world coming into
focus, it’s fitting. In a recent conversation, Mangum reflected on a
question he’s gotten often: Why didn’t Neutral Milk ever make a
video? But, he clarified, the band made millions of videos—all in
people’s minds. Everybody has their own Neutral Milk Hotel film in
their head. For an artist who took root in the liberating aesthetic of
underground tape-trading and DIY punk—whose sense of what music can be
was permanently altered by the Minutemen’s non formulaic structures,
by their mix of the political and the impressionistic; who announced, at
the start of his catalog, “I’m finally breaking free from
fear”—it’s an invitation to hear the music, and then become a part
Outer Box: Heavy duty, 12" two-piece telescoping casewrapped box with fitment. Larger & slicker than the 2011 version. increased to accommodate the extra contents and the interior fitments redesigned for added strength.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea LP: Single LP on black vinyl housed in
deluxe gatefold jacket.
On Avery Island 2-LP: Double LP on black vinyl. Expanded to include the
full-length version of “Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye.”
Housed in a deluxe gatefold jacket (this version is now the standard
edition available outside of the box set).
Live at Jittery Joe’s 12": Full-color single picture disc packaged in
deluxe clear sleeve w/ new artwork. Recorded in Athens, 1997. Exclusive
to the 2023 box set.
Ferris Wheel on Fire EP: Single black 10" housed in cardboard jacket w/
printed sleeve. Exclusive to the box set.
Everything Is EP: Single black 10" housed in cardboard jacket. Includes
the fours songs from the original EP, plus three additional tracks.
Expanded edition exclusive to the box set.
“Holland, 1945” / “Engine” 7": Single black 7" housed in
cardboard jacket w/ all-new artwork & plastic outer sleeve. B-side is an
exclusive recording of "Engine".
“Little Birds” 7"_: Single black 7" housed in cardboard jacket w/
plastic outer sleeve. Previously unreleased 2014 recording of "Little
Birds" + studio demo on the b-side.
“You’ve Passed” / “Where You’ll Find Me Now” 7": Single
black 7" housed in cardboard jacket (with updated art) w/ plastic outer
Posters: 24” × 24” poster featuring outer box cover art (folded) &
24” × 24” poster featuring flying gramophone art (folded).
Postcard: Double sided "souvenir" postcard with box set details &
OUT 24 FEBRUARY 2023...
>>>If you would like your pre-orders (with different release dates) shipped separately—please order them separately.
If not, we will happily ship all your items, when the last title is released!