Animal Collective

Spirit They've Gone, Spirit They've Vanished / Danse Manatee 2cds reissue

/fat cat; 2003/




more info:

Quiet Fish didn't say a word, and made me understand that it would be better for me to go on. We walked silently for a couple of miles across the plains until we reached the river. It was a lovely spot, the water was clear and the grass green. Quiet Fish gathered a couple of berries, mushrooms and roots. He looked straight into my eyes and let his hair loose with a nod, indicating that i had to do so as well. I sat on the river bank and let my feet float in the water, feeling it flowing through my toes. Quiet Fish sat down as well and offered me a few berries to eat. We both ate the acid fruits and, without a sound, vanished in the air. 

Animal Collective make psychedelic music, combining classic and experimental elements. It sounds a bit like Pink Floyd remixed by Black Dice. But unlike Black Dice's hermetic compositions, the music gathered here (at least on Spirit...) is much more easy to listen to, and consequently, appreciate.

A few months after the release of Here Comes the Indian, the band's latest album, Fat Cat reissues a very good album (Spirit they've Gone, Spirit they've Vanished) and a not-so-good one (Danse Manatee) for European ears. I don't really like talking about stuff i don't like, so, to make it quick : Spirit sounds like the musical equivalent of a child's drawing. It's colourful and eerie, but there are gruelling, dark elements hidden under the crayola. Danse Manatee, on the other hand, is more like the more messed-up but equally colourful product of a child throwing up the paint he's eaten. 

On Spirit, the band's favourite arrangement is the high-pitched, eardrum-piercing drone. it sounds like something between friendly aliens saying hello, nails screeching on a blackboard, dolphins chit-chatting and that sound when the girl saws the man's leg up to the bone in Audition

So, yes, there's definitely something repulsive in there. But it's perfectly balanced with cute pop harmonies and psychedelic melodies. Computer mimicks bird and computer screams. The music is basically a piano or an acoustic guitar, more or less abrasive electronic arrangements, sometimes drums and sometimes a guy singing just like Wayne Coyne. When the balance between nasty drones and songs is met, you get an impressive result. Penny Dreadfuls shows that Animal Collective is more than a group of neo-hippies messing up with computers. It's 8 minutes long, but never obviously bombastic la Godspeed You Black Emperor. All the emotion is conveyed by the singer's voice, and, once again, simplicity wins.

Some tracks are more colourful pieces, like Chocolate Girl for example, but there's always a dark side to them. Everything sounds child-like and innocent yet you can feel that the pink care bear smiling at you is hiding a knife behind his back, waiting for the proper time to slit your throat open.

-Barbara H

/oct 15th 2003/