Review 7 Nummer Zwei: Animal Collective

Posted on October 24, 2011

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The past week, I listened to Feels, Here Comes the Indian and Hollinndagain.

But first, a message from my nearest and dearest.

What the fuck was that? foto@me

Fuck, I'm outta here. Pervert. foto@me

Animal Collective, far from being friendly to actual animals, creeps my cat out. The last track on Danse Manatee, “In the Singing Box”, featured nails-on-chalkboard type scratches that unsettled my doll-faced little girl. She got real skittish and bolted.

OK, on to the next beat. Thank you for your feedback, Cupcake.

But now, Feels, the new album I’ve opened, is a lot more radio-friendly than the previous 3. I used to think Animal Collective was more like a sound-art-collective; a group that curated sounds rather than made songs. But now they sound like anthemic Brit rock. Which is really good. It’s not to say they’ve deviated from their trademark dictionary-definition-of-weird sounds, just that now those are taking place within the context of a song, rather than an abstract artshow.

That changes in the next album, though. Here Comes the Indian is heavy on the angst and synth. Mournful electronic wailing. Kinda haunting but also slightly visit-to-the-Science-Center. The interesting sounds are back again, and they once again make me think of curated art rather than music. But then again, I suppose in that sense an album is similar to an artshow, occupying aural space rather than a physical location. Ok so I’m now guessing Feels was an early album, before the group (I assume it’s a group) decided to go totally balls-to-the-walls.

So at this point I’m thinking of a “sound art” show I went to see recently as part of the Shanghai Electronic Music Week. I’ll write about it in a separate post. There were some cool ideas for sure, but I’m not so sure about the execution. Sound art is an interesting but inevitable concept, I think. As you can see/ have read, even a total plebeian like myself has a major tendency to relate sounds I hear to visual images, primarily to make the music more personal and accessible to myself, and also as a form of interpreting what I hear. Artists, with all that… stuff in them to express, have probably shat themselves in eagerness to do so.

Where were we? Sorry I drifted into a stupor. Is the silence part of the – oh. OK, next album.

Hollinndagain starts off absolutely cool, with… sounds. I can’t even tell what they are. Like… static. Scratches? Fabric tearing? Some items being drummed on in the background. Wow, this is ambient music in every sense of the word.

By the time the end of the album rolls around, I am no closer to understanding or remembering any of it. All I can recall is that it was fantastically imaginative, and what worries me as a listener is not that I don’t get their music, but that I never will be able to get inside their heads. It’s like these people are made of a different type of DNA.

For reliable sound art, Holga to the rescue.

The bad camera makes pretty pixies.

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