Review 7: Animal Collective Part Uno

Posted on October 13, 2011

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Feast the eyes, friends foto@me

So I just got back from a backpacking trip around Xinjiang province in China, and celebrated my return with the weirdest album review thus far.

Method of choosing: Washed hands, flicked water at screen and chose artist next to the biggest water droplet.

Choice: Animal Collective

Albums available: Shit tons. What’s going on?? Animal Crackbox, Campfire Songs, Danse Manatee, Feels, Here Comes the Indian, Hollinndagain, Merriweather Post Pavilion, People, Prospect Hummer, Strawberry Jam, Sung Tongs, Water Curses

Hypothesis:

OK I opened up the album folders and realise there are only 4-5 songs in each album. Is that correct or what? Or do I have missing songs? Oh well, I’ll only know at the end. So! The album titles sound rather trance-like to me, as in club-trance. I open up Animal Crackbox and right away “Pumpkin Gets a Snakebite” and “Do the Nurse” capture my heart. I also like to do nurses as much as I can. Stroking my crystal ball, somehow I feel they are Americans, high on LSD or something.

There also seems to be many animal names in their song titles – manatee, raven, bees, cuckoo, tigers, rabbits and Daffy Duck (does that count?) So my guess is that they are trippy hippy tree huggers. And I bet their music will be equally trippy, left-of-the-field and maybe have animal sounds. One hopes.

Actual music:

Wow, trippy-indeedy. I start with Animal Crackbox, and it’s all a MESS of sounds. It’s like the soundtrack to some video art installation. I feel like I should be wearing an awesomely capricious cape, somehow. Some disembodied voice starts wailing in the background. It’s like glimpsing an alien mermaid through pulsing waving forests of psychedelic seaweed. Wait, what? Do people actually get stoned on music?

The following review will be a collection of thoughts. Coherence and Animal Collective go together like peanut butter and broiled oysters.

10 minutes in, I’m still waiting for something to… happen. But I guess that is way too plebeian for this kinda thing.

Something sounds like people randomly smacking at plastic tables and chairs.

Nails on chalkboard.

Someone is wearing a giant milk carton as a mascot and fapping furiously.

Snare drums and mosquitoes mating. Sounds almost pop.

Monks on acid.

After a while I was too tripped out to actively process what I was listening to. I floated in a warm pale pink cocoon of swishing liquids, lapped at on all sides by gentle nudging waves of aural weirdity. It actually took me a while to realise the album has come to an end and all was now silent. But there was a strange buzzing in the air. Oh, wait, a mosquito.

On to Campfire Songs. I hear relentless guitar-strumming and something that sounds like Tibetan lamas chanting. At this point, I crack open a can of Chinese-brand sparkling Rose, because I have gone to a place where the weirdest ideas seem awesome, and now the Tibetan lamas have cast off their saffron robes and put on Texan farmer caps, because the vocals are increasingly prairie-like.

And now, panting alien dogs. I think I like Campfire Songs. It’s quite subversive, given the title of the album. It’s like they’re saying a-HA! And you thought you would be getting Billy Joel, did you? Take that! And that! And that! Now do you need to get drunk?

Anyway, the album winds down to a mournful close, as the embers of fire die in wisps of orange sparks.

Danse Manatee is up next. It starts off nicely different, kinda with a cheesy sci-fi sound. I am now onto my 3rd drink and definitely headed for Happy Town. This is the soundtrack to my road trip. I can’t believe people make music to get stoned to. Happy finger-snapping sounds float up around me like pieces of fibrous turds in the toilet. Yay.

It doesn’t last long, though. Whiny vocals start to complain to me about “Another White Singer”. This track has a simultaneously 60s camp and industrial vibe.

Seriously, Animal Collective is challenging all notions I have of music, especially contemporary mass-consumed music. Obviously they wouldn’t be as mass-consumed as the Bieber-onimo, (I’m writing this to what sounds like it could start to be ear-melting punk) but I do know, even in my massive ignoramus-ness, that Animal Collective is big. My friends have talked about it more than once and I’ve heard of it before I listened to it. There must be tons of music who like this. Let’s sum this baby up. There is no follow-able melody/ hooks, no clear vocals, unrecognizable instruments. Tracks range from 7 minutes to 1 minute. There’s just nothing soothingly relatable in anything I’ve heard so far in the 3 albums. And yet, probably a sign that my music tastes are evolving, or the Animals are just secretly beguiling, I kind of like it. It’s a bit like walking a dim and psychedelic alleyway that has awesomely creepy graffiti on the walls.

Ok, but enough for the night. Will be back.

They might not have liked Animal Collective. foto@me

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