For the past three years Ft. Collins, Colorado native otem rellik (Toby Hendricks), has been tweaking, mixing, and perfecting each track to his record Elephant Graveyard with an almost manic obsession. A renowned circuit-bending prodigy, Hendricks is no stranger to meticulousness. Carefully and thoughtfully, he creates instruments to his specifications from old discarded toys and other flotsam, crafting tones and sounds that are distinctly his own. He builds tracks in the same fashion, piece by piece. His songs echo off the walls of the basement rooms that he produces them in with rich harmonies and rough, sometimes guttural raps filling the spaces.
Hendricks' regard for poetic lyricism is underscored by humbling and translucent honesty. The album is the embodiment of the various recording spaces it was crafted in and presents alluring yet somewhat disturbing melodies and lyrical content. With a theme of forgotten memories and ghosts lurking in your subconscious, songs like “Splinters” inspire one to pay more attention to small things and avoid the mundane. Not all reminiscence on the album is regretful - "Walking on Stilts" has Toby reflecting back on his childhood under the positive yet pale glow of moonlight.
Youtube sensation Danielle Ate the Sandwich lends her sweet smoky voice to “Structural Integrity”. The two vocalists explore the foundation of their existence, brick by brick. Ending with “Sour Segments”, otem repackages the 1974 Rosey Grier children's song “It's Alright To Cry” in a style that will nod the head of even the most stubborn of hip hop purists.
Elephant Graveyard finds otem rellik more robust and mature than 2008 self-released Chain Reaction Robot. His unique production style is reminiscent of some of the darker moments of lo-fi storyteller Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, while his memorable melodies draw the listener into a cozy space, not unlike some of Hendricks' contemporary/sometimes collaborator Astronautalis' older work. Hendricks made the best of badly lit studio spaces with dusty floors and creaking ceilings with the album. His reflective songwriting style proves you can't walk on graves without waking ghosts.