Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Animal Collective's new album

The new Animal Collective album came out yesterday in digital formats and on vinyl. It’s called Merriweather Post Pavilion and is released on the ever reliable Domino imprint. I’m fairly new to this band I’ll admit, I got introduced to them last year when a friend of mine hipped me to Panda Bear’s solo album, Person Pitch. There were several things I loved about it; the Beach Boys feel, the deep ambience, its cut and paste aspect and liner notes that give props to Cat Stevens, Moodymann and Biggie, amongst many others Furthermore it seemed dense and difficult to pin down in terms of production, I mean to say I couldn’t quite fathom what he was doing, but it sounded good.

Ditto with the new Animal Collective, I can’t put my finger on what they are doing and I don’t want to wax metaphorical about it just to seem clever and knowledgeable. Perhaps ignorance is really bliss, or perhaps mystery lives inside ignorance too, like back in the days when you would read about some obscure record in a magazine and there was no internet to hear it or buy it immediately. The lack of access created a mythology around it and if and when you found it was momentous.

I’ve had this experience with many of the seminal house and techno records that I read about in British magazines back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but I could never find them or I missed the boat on them when I tried to mail order them from stores in the UK. But when I immigrated to America I suddenly started finding those records, even the ones on mix tapes that I didn’t know the name of, suddenly one day you’re in a record store and you pick up this unknown record to listen to it and there it is, it’s that tune on that tape that you used to listen to it in 1988. Perhaps when you have to struggle hard for something it becomes all the more precious.

Consumer pontification aside, the new Animal Collective is another towering mass of noise, hefty bass, angelic vocals and beautiful arrangement, which doesn’t follow the tried and tested song structures that we have come to expect. Psychedelic rock conspires with drifting ambience and tough techno style beats — check “Summertime Clothes” for this heady amalgam — yet the mélange still manages to retain a strangely pastoral feel that is imbued with a pop inflected naivete; technologically augmented music for luddites?

Merriweather Post Pavilion is a musically open ended sojourn though forests and cities built of pure imagination and glistening sound. A record to get lost in, so let’s get lost.


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