Lawrence, KS-based emo quartet Appleseed Cast were originally comprised of singer/guitarist Christopher Crisci, guitarist Aaron Pillar, bassist Jason Wickersheim, and drummer Louie Ruiz. Signing to Deep Elm, the group made its debut on the 1998 label sampler Records for the Working Class, releasing the full-length The End of the Ring Wars later that same year. In 1999 Appleseed Cast (now with new drummer Josh Baruth) released a new single, "Skatter Ik Ignito," as well as a split EP with labelmates Planes Mistaken for Stars and Race Car Riot; Mare Vitalis followed in early 2000, heavily showcasing Baruth's complicated beats and the band's overall dense, atmospheric sound. Despite the hints of a new direction, the album couldn't have prepared fans for the two Low Level Owl albums released in 2001. Complex, delicate, and highly experimental, these two records took a cue from Radiohead's Kid A and sent the band careening into space rock and electronica with only traces of emo poking through. The records weren't nearly as commercially accepted, but their overall bravery showed that the band was prepared to make stylistic leaps.