Animal Collective

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Panda Bear (1999), 6/10
Spirit They're Gone Spirit They've Vanished (2000), 7.5/10
Danse Manatee (2001), 7/10
Campfire Songs (2003), 6/10
Here Comes The Indian (2003), 7/10
Panda Bear: Young Prayer (2004), 6/10
Sung Tongs (2004) , 6.5/10
Feels (2005), 6/10
Panda Bear: Person Pitch (2007), 7.5/10
Strawberry Jam (2007), 6.5/10
Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) , 6/10
Avey Tare: Down There (2010) , 6.5/10
Panda Bear: Tomboy (2011), 6/10
Centipede Hz (2012), 4.5/10
Slasher Flicks: Enter the Slasher House (2014), 4/10
Panda Bear: Meets the Grim Reaper (2015), 5/10
Painting With (2016), 4/10
Deakin: Sleep Cycle (2016), 5.5/10
Avey Tare: Eucalyptus (2017), 4/10
Avey Tare: Cows on Hourglass Pond (2019), 5.5/10
Tangerine Reef (2018), 4/10
Panda Bear: Buoys (2019), 4/10
Time Skiffs (2022), 5/10

The core of the Animal Collective are New York-based guitarist Avey Tare (real name David Portner) and drummer Panda Bear (real name Noah Lennox). Panda Bear (Soccer Star, 1999) had already presented a bizarre program of electronic folk music, at the intersection of Nick Drake, Syd Barrett and Brian Eno.

The duo debuted with the tenderly dissonant post-psychedelic electronica of Spirit They're Gone Spirit They've Vanished (Animal, 2000). This extraterrestrial android vaudeville evokes the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev in their most anarchic ventures. The shorter pieces simply revel in their accustomed eccentricity. Spirit They've Vanished is a tentative ballad drenched in harsh electronic noise (no other instruments), basically a duet of voice and electronics. Drums and guitars debut in April & The Phantom, a spastic rave-up with pastoral vocals and whistles. Bat You'll Fly drowns in nostalgic keyboards and vocals that are looped around. The longer pieces, though, toy with creative processes to construct a song and let it evolve into something else. Buzzing electronics and terse piano notes slowly coalesce into the tender piano-based elegy of Penny Dreadfuls. The simple lullaby over vibrating organ of Chocolate Girl picks up strength as it goes, incorporating a loud bass, syncopated drumming and pastoral guitar, while the keyboards sound more and more alien. The 13-minute Alvin Row unleashes dissonant free-jazz jamming, a vibrant piano sonata, snippets of circus motifs, vocal sounds that are not quite singing and a samba-like percussive frenzy. It is all (deliberately) chaotic and unfocused, but nonetheless gentle. It is hard to pinpoint the rhythms and the arrangements, although the melodies are quite hummable and even serene. Cacophonous rock music had always been a game of subverting everything, while Animal Collective only subverts the instrumental parts.

Danse Manatee (Catsup Plate, 2001), recorded by Tare, Panda Bear, and Brian "Geologist" Weitz, adds more pop vocals but, in general, it is less song-oriented and more abstract. This festival of aborted ideas opens with the hissing and tinkling noises of A Manatee Danse. Some of the pieces evoke the anemic robotic songs of the Residents (Another White Singer, Throwin' The Round Ball), and some go way beyond that framework in terms of nuking the traditional song format (Loblakely Dress). The shabby psych-folk with sound effects Essplode opens another front, which the nine-minute Meet The Light Child attacks with no mercy for codified musical rules: a Syd Barrett-ian melody gets buried in a nightmare of random sounds before plunging into stark Nick Drake-ian musical nudity and ends up floating over dreamy collective interplay. It is even harder to pin down the percussive dance Runnin' The Round Ball and the stop-and-go singalong In The Singing Box. Sometimes the pieces decay and sometimes they grow and rise. The eight-minute The Living Toys disintegrates in a foggy landscape evoked by the tense vibrations of all the instruments and by very distant stoned singing; but, instead, the eight-minute Ahhh Good Country slowly morphs from a loud cosmic hissing coupled with a deep rumble into a hyper-languid dreamy litany that in turns slowly morphs into a Laurie Anderson-ian lullaby over an ever more powerful beat created by several percussion instruments in unison. Nothing is professional and all is manically (childishly?) disorienting, but the overall effect is actually of a very focused intelligence, except that it is difficult to express in traditional terms the focus of this deviant intelligence.

Hollinndagain (St Ives, 2002 - Paw Tracks, 2006) documents live jams by the Animal Collective.

The split personality of Danse Manatee was resolved on Campfire Songs (Catsup Plate, 2003) in favor of the folk-pop ego. The collection is just what the title implies: acoustic campfire songs, recorded live outdoors; but the psychedelic factor is as high as ever (peacking with the closing, 11-minute De Soto De Son) The line-up now included vocalist and guitarist Josh Dibb a.k.a. Deakin.

Here Comes The Indian (Paw, 2003), finally credited to the Animal Collective, is even more erratic and amoebic. The twelve-minute musique-concrete fantasia Two Sails On A Sound assembles a smooth collage of unrelated sounds, and concocts an organic flow of instrumental and found sounds. Its nonchalance is even more striking than their trademark demented orgies. It is ambient music by comparison with what comes next. A linear evolution of sorts is also implemented in Infant Dressing Table (8:35), in which sampled and repeated vocals are part of the messy, alien, wildly dissonant sonic stew. The hyperkinetic voodoobilly of Slippi (2:49) pulverizes whatever quiet has been created by the first track, and paves the way for the agonizing, totally distorted meditation of Too Soon (6:27), and the dadaistic nightmare of Hey Light (5:41), which sounds like the band of the mental asylum covering the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. These are pieces with absolutely no structure. The whirlwind of free vocals of Panic (4:48) is at least cohesive. The Animal Collective new resides firmly on the soundsculpting side of the musical universe. Rhythms and melodies have been subjected to a process of purification and distillation resulting in a complete loss of identity.

The Animal Collective tempered its quirkiness on Sung Tongs (Fat Cat, 2004), but losing quite a bit of its credibility on the bossanova-sounding kitsch of Leaf House, the singalong acoustic folk of Winters Love, the baroque harmonies of Who Could Win A Rabbit, and the 12-minute nostalgic fantasia Visiting Friends, in a vein that updates the Beach Boys' high-pitched multi-part harmonies to the post-rock world. Despite the percussive nightmare of We Tigers, the demented psalm of Mouth Wooed Her and the psychedelic ditties Kids on Holiday and Whaddit I Done, the album's streamlined and simplified approach almost negates everything the Animal Collective stood for.

Noah "Panda Bear" Lennox's mini-album Young Prayer (Paw, 2004) contains nine somber (untitled) elegies for voice, guitar, piano inspired by the death of his father. They are closer in format and spirit to austere church music than to folk music. 2 is particularly haunting, sounding like an electronic version of David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name. The more formal 4 approaches the austerity of a chamber lied. Most are serene, celestial chants like 3 and 8, that don't seem to have much else to say than to respect the will of nature. It was a very minor work, but one that already showed Panda Bear's eccentric take on singing and songwriting.

Terrestrial Tones is a project of abstract electronica by Avey Tare (David Portner) and Black Dice's Eric Copeland that debuted with Blasted (Psychopath, 2004).

The four-song EP Prospect Hummer (Fat Cat, 2005) documents a collaboration between Animal Collective and Vashti Bunyan.

Jane, a collaboration between Noah "Panda Bear" Lennox and Scott Mou, released Berserker (Paw Tracks, 2005), a rather confused collection of aimless songs.

Feels (Fat Cat, 2005), featuring guests of honor such as violinist Eyvind Kang and Kristin Anna Valtysdottir Mum's pianist, was Animal Collective's most accessible album yet, the equivalent of Sonic Youth's Sister (1987), a complete repudiation of the aesthetics of Here Comes The Indian. The collective's innovation shifted from the accumulation of childish musical errors to a new canon of musical counterpoint. The most cohesive songs (such as Did You See The Words, Turn Into Something and The Purple Bottle) evoked the Flaming Lips at their most harmonically insolvent. The irresistible dance Grass virtually coined a new form of Sixties Revival, retaining the jovial spirit and hinting at soulfulness while eskewing all the previously codified stereotypes. The separation of Avey Tare's songs on the first half and Panda Bear's on the second did not bode well for the future, though.
The sweet lullaby Loch Raven and the charmingly mutant Banshee Beat (the longest track at eight minutes) applied the Animal Collective's transgressive opportunism to a much more compromising folk or pop context. Only Daffy Duck harked back to the celestial mess of the past. Nonetheless, or perhaps precisely because of its limitations, this was the album that influenced the chillwave genre.

I'm Not / Comfy In Nautica (Uunited Acoustic Recordings, 2006) was a single released by Panda Bear (Noah Lennox).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Andrea Marengo)

Il nucleo degli Animal Collective sono il chitarrista Avey Tare (nome d'arte di David Portner) e il batterista Panda Bear (nome d'arte di Noah Lennox). Panda Bear (Soccer Star, 1999) proponeva già un bizzarro programma di folk elettronico a metà strada fra Nick Drake, Syd Barrett e Brian Eno.

Il duo debuttò con l'elettronica post-psichedelica teneramente dissonante di Spirit They're Gone Spirit They Have Vanished (Animal, 2000). Questo vaudeville androide-extraterrestre rimanda tanto ai Flaming Lips quanto ai Mercury Rev nelle loro avventure più anarchiche, mentre le tracce più brevi divagano nella loro eccentricità destinata a diventare uno dei loro marchi di fabbrica. Spirit They've Vanished è un'esitante ballata immersa in taglienti rumori elettronici (non vi sono altri strumenti) che fa duettare voce ed elettronica. Batteria e chitarra debuttano su April & The Phantom, un festino spasmodico accompagnato da fischi e vocalizzi bucolici. Bat You'll Fly annega nel mezzo di tastiere nostalgiche e vocalizzi in loop. Le tracce più lunghe scimmiottano invece  con i processi creativi per costruire canzoni lasciando che si evolvano in qualcos'altro. Elettronica bisbigliante e note di piano forbite si agglomerano nella tenera elegia pianistica di Penny Dreadfuls. La semplice ninnananna organistica eccessivamente vibrante di Chocolate Girl incorpora un potente basso, una batteria sincopata e una chitarra pastorale, mentre i suoni delle tastiere divengono sempre più alieni. I tredici minuti di Alvin Row scatenano una dissonante jam free-jazz, una vibrante sonata per pianoforte, frammenti di motivetti circensi, sonorità vocali (che non cantano) e una frenetica samba percussiva. Tutto è (volutamente) caotico e confuso, ma non per questo privo di mitezza. Benché le melodie siano abbastanza cantabili e serene, è difficile puntualizzare i ritmi e gli arrangiamenti proposti dal gruppo. A differenza delle altre formazioni di rock cacofonico che hanno sempre sovvertito ogni canone musicale, gli Animal Collective sovvertono le sole parti strumentali. 

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Franco Forni)

Danse Manatee (Catsup Plate, 2001), registrato da Tare, Panda Bear e da Brian "Geologist" Weitz, aggiunge diverse parti cantate ma in generale si discosta dal formato canzone e si presenta piu' astratto, richiamando Bugskull e Residents. Brani: A Manatee Danse, Penguin Penguin, Another White Singer, Essplode, Meet The Light Child, Runnin' The Round Ball, Bad Crumbs, The Living Toys, Throwin' The Round Ball, Ahhh Good Country, Loblakely Dress, In The Singing Box.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Andrea Marengo)

La doppia personalità di Danse Manatee venne assecondata su Campfire Song (Catsup Plate, 2003) a favore di una vena più folk-pop. La raccolta è semplicemente ciò che i titoli suggeriscono: canzoni acustiche da campeggio registrate dal vivo; ma l'elemento psichedelico (che svetta negli undici minuti concludenti di De Soto De Son) è più evidente che mai.  La formazione ora include il cantante e chitarrista Deakin (nome d'arte di Josh Dibb).

Here Comes The Indian (Paw, 2003), finalmente attribuito agli Animal Collective, è ancora più eccentrico ed amebico. I dodici minuti strumentali dell'iniziale Two Sails On A Sound riassemblano un languido collage di suoni casuali che mescola un flusso organico strumentale a suoni trovati; la disinvoltura di questa traccia è ancora più sorprendente che nelle loro orge folli. Questa è, però, musica ambientale se paragonata a ciò che verrà più tardi. Infant Dressing Table attua un'evoluzione, per così dire, "lineare" mentre vocalizzi campionati e ripetuti si elevano in una generale ansia confusionaria sonora. L'ipercinetico garage-rock di Slippi polverizza qualsiasi elemento pacato che costituiva la prima traccia, pavimentando la strada per l'agonizzante meditazione totalmente distorta di Too Soon e per l'incubo dadaista di Hey Light. Queste tracce sono completamente prive di struttura, ad eccezione del solo caotico mulinello di vocalizzi di Panic. Gli Animal Collective ora dimorano fermamente nell'ambito della scultura sonora: ritmi e melodie sono assogettate da un processo di purificazione e distillazione che è il risultato di una totale perdità dell'identità. 

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Arranger)

Gli Animal Collective hanno moderato la propria arguzia e frizzantezza in Sung Tongs(Fat Cat, 2004),ma perdendo un po' in credibilità nel kitsch simil-bossanova di Leaf House, nel folkeggiare acustico da coro di Winter Love, nelle armonie barocche di Who Could Win A Rabbit, e nella fantasia nostalgica da 12 minuti Visiting Friends, in una vena che ammoderna per il mondo post-rock le acute armonie a più parti che furono dei Beach Boys.Nonostante l'incubo di percussioni di We Tigers, la demente salmodia di Mouth Wooed Her e le canzoncine psichedeliche Kids On Holiday e Whaddit I Done, l'approccio lineare e semplificato dell'album quasi nega ciò che gli Animal Collective stavano a significare.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Andrea Marengo)

Il mini album Young Prayers (Paw, 2004), di Noah "Panda Bear" Lennox, raccoglie nove tenebrose elegie (senza titolo) per voce, chitarra e pianoforte ispirate alla morte di suo padre. Le tracce sono più vicine in spirito alla musica austera da chiesa che al folk. La particolarmente spettrale 2 somiglia ad una versione elettronica di If I Could Only Remember My Name di David Crosby. La più formale 4 si avvicina all'austerità di un lieder da camera. La maggior parte delle composizioni, quali 3 e 8, sono cantici calmi e celestiali che non sembrano però avere molto da dire. Benchè fosse un lavoro molto minore, questo album era in grado di mostrare il piglio eccentrico di Panda Bear nel cantare e scrivere testi.

Terrestrial Tones è un progetto di elettronica astratta composto da Avey Tare (David Portner) ed Eric Portland dei Black Dice che debuttò con Blasted (Psycopath, 2004).

L'EP di quattro canzoni Prospect Hummer (Fat Cat, 2005) è una collaborazione tra Animal Collective e Vashti Bunyan.

I Jane, ovvero la collaborazione tra Noah "Panda Bear" Lennox e Scott Mou, pubblicarono Berserker (Paw Tracks, 2005), una confusa raccolta di canzoni piuttosto inutili.

Feels (Fat Cat, 2005), che vantava la presenza di ospiti onorevoli quali Eyvind Kang e Kristin Anna Valtysdottir, era fino a quel momento il loro album più accessibile. L'album era l'equivalente di Sister (1987) dei Sonic Youth, e segnava il totale ripudio dell'estetica di Here Comes The Indian da parte del gruppo. Le novità introdotte dal collettivo si sono ora spostate dall'accumulazione di errori musicali infantili ad un nuovo canone di contrappunto musicale. Le canzoni più coesive (Did You See The Words, Turn Into Something e The Purple Bottle) rimandano ai momenti di maggiore insolvenza passiva dei Flaming Lips. La dance irresistibile di Grass conia virtualmente una nuova forma di revival degli anni sessanta, conservandone il loro spirito goliardico, sebbene la separazione delle canzoni di Avey Tare (presenti nella prima metà dell'album) da quelle di Panda Bear (presenti invece nella seconda), non preannuciano nulla di buono. La dolce ninnananna di Loch Raven e le affascinanti mutazioni di Banshee Beat (la traccia più lunga dell'album con i suoi otto minuti di durata) applica l'opportunismo trasgressivo degli Animal Collective in un contesto folk o pop più compromettente. Solo Daffy Duck rimanda alle confusioni celestiali del passato.

I'm Not/Comfy In Nautica (United Acoustic Recordings, 2006) era un singolo pubblicato da Panda Bear (Noah Lennox).

Animal Collective's Avey Tare and his wife Mum's Kria Brekkan recorded a duo album, Pullhair Rubeye (Paw Tracks, 2007), of ethereal lo-fi psychedelic lullabies. The notable event was not so much the album itself as the fact that the main version played all the music backwards.

Hollinndagain (Paw Tracks, 2006) collects live performances from 2001.

Panda Bear's Person Pitch (Paw Tracks, 2007) performs a spectacular deconstruction of pop and folk music. The vocal harmonies recall the Beach Boys, the melodies evoke cheesy bubblegum acts such as 10 CC. Comfy In Nautica a-cappella children's hymn with loud rhythmic clapping amid assorted electronic effects. The spaced-out vocals, the multi-part harmonies, the cascading melody of Take Pills sound positively like harkening from the psychedelic Sixties, but the song is typical of how the rhythms, whose effect is often enhanced by loops, transport Panda Bear's ditties into another orbit and another planet. Panda Bear weaves singalongs that ride layers of humble arrangements according to an ancestral logic of tribal repetition and jovial self-parody.
Sometimes his music sounds like folk-rock in the hands of a primitive tribe, as in the hypnotic, epic 12-minute Bros, sung with an attitude that sits halfway between Brazialian saudade and a stoned hippy's nonchalance (the vocals are distorted and reverbed) while the jingling percussion gets more and more intense. (The next song, I'm Not, sounds like an appendix focusing mostly on loops of dreamy vocals without the rhythm).
Moments of percussive trance and ecstatic singing also surface from the melodic crevices of the 13-minute Good Girl/Carrots, that replaces the collective hammering of Bros with dissonant industrial loops and beeps and hisses. The singing here is a mere corollary to the grotesque soundscape. (And, again, the orgy is followed by a piece of floating free-form vocals).
Panda Bear has installed a giant mirror in the sky to project Earth's life onto another galaxy.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Marco Spagnuolo & Francesco Romano Spano')

Avey Tare degli Animal Collective e sua moglie Kria Brekkan dei Mum registrarono un album intitolato Pullhair Rubeye (Paw Tracks, 2007), di canzoncine di un etereo lo-fi psichedelico. Lìevento notevole e particolare non è l’abum in sé ma piuttosto il fatto che tutta la musica è suonata all’indietro.

Hollinndagain (Paw Tracks, 2006) è una raccolta di live dal 2001.

Il nuovo album a nome Panda Bear, Person Pitch (Paw Tracks, 2007), mette in scena una spettacolare decostruzione della musica pop e folk. Le armonie vocali richiamano alla mente i Beach Boys, le melodie evocano bubblegum demenziali come quelli dei 10 CC. Comfy In Nautica è un inno bianco a cappella con battimani ritmico tra effetti elettronici assortiti. La voce stralunata, le armonie stratificate e la melodia a cascata di Take Pills richiamano positivamente gli anni ’60, ma la canzone é tipica di come il ritmo, il cui effetto è spesso potenziato da loops, trasporti gli stornelli di Panda Bear in un’altra orbita e su un altro pianeta. Panda Bear intesse coretti che cavalcano strati di umili arrangiamenti seguendo una logica ancestrale di ripetizione tribale e gioviale auto-parodia. A volte la sua musica sembra folk-rock nelle mani di un tribù primitiva, come negli ipnotici, epici 12 minuti di Bros, eseguiti con una maestria che si pone a meta’ tra la saudade brasiliana e la nonchalance di un hippy drogato (il canto è distorto e riverberato) mentre il ritmo tintinnante diventa sempre più intenso. (La canzone successiva, I'm Not, vi sembra un'appendice, che si concentra maggiormente sul loop del canto sognante senza il ritmo). Momenti di trance ritmica e canto estatico traspaiono anche dalle fenditure melodiche di Good Girl/Carrots, che rimpiazza il martellamento collettivo di Bros con loops industriali dissonanti e bips e sibili. Il canto qui fa da mero corollario al paesaggio sonoro grottesco. (Ed ancora una volta, all'orgia fa seguito un pezzo di canto libero fluttuante). Panda Bear ha installato uno specchio gigantesco nel cielo per progettare la vita sulla Terra in un’altra galassia.

Having suddenly become darlings of the critics that had ignored them at the beginning, Animal Collective delivered a wild-mannered album, Strawberry Jam (Domino, 2007), to satisfy the late-comers and to start testing the masses. Overall, Avey Tare's artistic soul seems to prevail over Panda Bear's (despite the fact that Panda Bear is credited with writing most of the material). If occasionally Tare achieves prophetic greatness (the pounding and relatively catchy For Reverend Green), if the album still exhibits a rhythmic madness (that mainly manifests itself in the off-kilter grooves of Peacebone, facile and noisy at the same time), the creative peaks are found at the other stylistic extreme, in the bubbling, demented, childishly martial Unsolved Mysteries, in the electronic-heavy mantra-like Fireworks #1, in the anarchic, dadaistic chamber music of Cuckoo Cuckoo. More melodic madness occurs in the quirky Polynesian-tinged chant Chores, in the frenzied music-hall skit Winter Wonderland, and especially in the deranged ode of Derek, that is swallowed in a monster cave of electronic sounds. (Translation by/ Tradotto da Tobia D’Onofrio)

Essendo di colpo diventati i prediletti di quei critici che li avevano ignorati all’inizio della loro carriera, gli Animal Collective hanno dato vita ad un album dai modi selvaggi, Strawberry Jam (Domino, 2007), per soddisfare gli ultimi arrivati ed incominciare a mettere alla prova le masse. In tutto e per tutto l’anima artistica di Avey Tare sembra avere la meglio su quella di Panda Bear. Se di tanto in tanto Tare raggiunge una grandezza profetica (la martellante For Reverend Green, relativamente orecchiabile), e se è vero che l’album esibisce ancora una certa follia ritmica (che si manifesta principalmente nei grooves atipici di Peacebone, docile e rumorosa allo stesso tempo), gli apici creativi si trovano di fatto all’altro estremo stilistico: nella folle, scoppiettante ed ingenuamente marziale Unsolved Mysteries; in Fireworks #1 una specie di heavy-mantra elettronico; nella musica da camera anarchica e dadaista di Cuckoo Cuckoo. Si incontra dell’ulteriore follia melodica nell’astuta armonia dal sapore polinesiano Chores, nel frenetico scherzo da music-hall Winter Wonderland, e soprattutto nell’ode sconvolta di Derek, inghiottita dai suoni elettronici della caverna di un mostro.

The EP Water Curses (Domino, 2008) contains Avey Tare's catchy title-track.

The Animal Collective was pared down to a trio now after the departure of Josh "Deakin" Dibb. Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino, 2009) continued the trend towards a more conventional (and guitar-less) song format, packaged in a sleek, multi-layered production. The Syd Barrett-ian psychedelic lullaby In The Flowers explodes in a loud merry-go-round of keyboards and percussion: it is neither groundbreaking nor particularly memorable. My Girls is a charming take on minimalist repetition and house music, with raga-like fibrillation juxtaposed against ecstatic chants: neither particularly new nor particularly engaging. Lion in a Coma is an atmospheric and not very melodic song although drenched in a chaos of syncopated percussive sounds and of somewhat clownish electronic timbres. The album dwells in this limbo of fake uncreative creativity. Basically, it's nothing but Phil Spector's "wall of sound" updated to the age in which the studio can do a lot more than an army of musicians. Also Frightened wonders dangerously close to the Beatles of Sgt Pepper, and Bluish sounds like a parody of the Beach Boys. The Animal Collective's personal variation on that stereotype comes from the ritualistic element that is also the common denominator of all the songs.
The one moment of genius is Summertime Clothes, boasting a dislocated hard-rock riff and a panzer techno beat as its rhythmic foundation, and a vaudeville-like rigmarole with a soaring chorus as its leitmotiv. A close second is the jovial Latin-tingued dance of Brothersport that turns into a hypnotic game of vocal harmonies.
Dave Portner (aka Avey Tare) and Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) have never sounded more conventional. They have even become predictable. Only the bands of synth-pop have employed so many keyboard sounds to create such simple pop ditties.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Rachele Materassi)

Gli Animal Collective si sono ridotti a trio dopo il distacco di Josh “Deakin” Dibb. Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino, 2009) ha mantenuto il trend verso uno stile più convenzionale (e senza chitarre), presentato in una creazione delicata e multistrato. In The Flowers, ninna nanna psichedelica in stile Syd Barret, esplode in un chiassoso carosello di tastiere e percussioni: non è né innovativa né memorabile. My Girls è una presa fascinosa sulla ripetizione minimalista e la musica house, con fibrillazioni in stile raga che si affiancano e contrappongono a melodie estatiche: niente di particolarmente nuovo o coinvolgente. Lion in a Coma è un pezzo altalenante e non molto melodico, nonostante sia imbrigliato in un caos di suoni sincopati di batteria e di burleschi timbri elettronici. L’album sta in questo limbo di creatività sterile e falsa. Di fatto, non è niente di più del “muro del suono” di Phil Spector aggiornato ad un’epoca in cui uno studio può fare molto di più di un esercito di musicisti. Also Frightened  si aggira pericolosamente attorno alla beatlesiana Sgt Pepper e Bluish sembra una parodia dei Beach Boys. L’interpretazione personale di questi stereotipi fornita dagli Animal Collective proviene dall’elemento rituale, che è anche il comune denominatore di tutte le canzoni. L’unico sprazzo di genio è Summertime Clothes, che osa un riff hard-rock fuori dal coro e una techno beat in stile panzer come base ritmica e un nonsense in stile vaudeville con un ritornello corale come leitmotiv. Al secondo posto si colloca la danza gioviale dalle tinte latine di Brothersport, che si trasforma in un gioco ipnotico di armonie vocali. 
Non si sono mai sentiti un Dave Portner (aka Avey Tare) e una Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) così convenzionali.  Sono diventati addirittura prevedibili. Solo i gruppi di synth-pop hanno fatto un ricorso così smodato alla tastiera per creare delle canzoni talmente semplici e pop.

The Animal Collective also scored the soundtrack for the 53-minute psychedelic video ODDSAC (2010) by Danny Perez, and Geologist scored the soundtrack for Coral Morphologic's short film Man o War (2011).

Avey Tare's Down There (2010) channels his haunting gloomy personal visions into melodies for manipulated vocals and watery electronica. The songs are difficult to grasp and catalog, drifting between ambient folk (Ghost of Books) and philosophical pop (Cemeteries), and only occasionally standing up erect (the single Lucky 1).

Panda Bear's Tomboy (Paw Tracks, 2011) is a collection of much more predictable (and shorter) songs. The booming You Can Count On Me and the lively Surfer's Hymn are more closely related to his past work, while Friendship Bracelet and Slow Motion indulge in psychological soundpainting, and Alsatian Darn, Scheherazade and Benfica explore alternative ways to compose a song. The problem is that, with a humbler arsenal at his disposal, Panda Bear sometimes ends up sounding like a parody: Afterburner echoes synth-pop of the 1980s and Last Night at the Jetty even doo-wop of the 1950s.

The Animal Collective (now again a foursome after the return of Josh Dibb aka "Deakin"), continued its slow descent into irrelevance with Centipede Hz (Domino, 2012). The cluttered arrangements are cunningly designed to hide the lack of imagination. It's a strategy of distraction (architected by the same producer, Ben Allen, who fooled the masses on Merriweather Post Pavilion). That strategy is wrapped a concept of sort: the album is ostensibly inspired by radio interference, which therefore constitutes the primal trick used in the sound production.
Opener Moonjock is emblematic of the state of the band: a third-rate Beatles melody, third-rate Beach Boys harmonies and third-rate sound effects, a deadly combination salvaged towards the end by an honest burst of tribal joviality. When the chaotic arrangements relent, the scarce substance of the music is mercilessly revealed, e.g. in terribly trivial songs like Today's Supernatural and Wide Eyed. Where they found the guts to insert things (let's not call them "song") like FatherTime and New Town Burnout will remain a mystery. Panda Bear should blush for how he wastes Rosie Oh: his singing style has become a major annoyance. The faked exuberance of the album is a major drawback even on the few valid songs, ruining even the melodic progression and rhythmic invention of Applesauce, the hysterical Talking Heads-ian jamming of Monkey Riches and the exotic Japan-esque techno-rock of Amanita. The best one can say is that this album is a polyrhythmic feast. But one can't help wonder whether this wasn't simply meant as a joke on us.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Montefiori)

Down There di Avey Tare incanala la sua visione personale cupa ed inquietante in melodie per voci manipolate ed elettronica acquea. Le canzoni sono difficili da cogliere e catalogare, vagando  tra l'ambient folk (Ghost of Books) e il pop filosofico (Cemeteries) e solo occasionalmente ergendosi in piedi (il singolo Lucky 1).

Tomboy  di Panda Bear (Paw Tracks, 2011) è una collezione di canzoni ben più prevedibili (e più corte). La risonante You Can Count On Me e la vivace Surfer's Hymn  sono più strettamente collegate al suo precedente lavoro, mentre Friendship Bracelet e Slow Motion si concedono un soundpainting psicologico e Alsatian Darn, Scheherazade  e Benfica  esplorano modi alternativi per comporre una canzone.  Il problema è che,  con un arsenale più umile a sua disposizione, Panda Bear talvolta finisce per assomigliare ad una parodia:  Afterburner  fa l'eco al synth-pop degli anni 80 e Last Night at the Jetty lo fa al doo-wop dei '50.

Gli Animal Collective (ora di nuovo in quattro dopo il ritorno di Josh Dibb aka "Deakin"), continuano la loro lenta discesa nell'irrilevanza con Centipede Hz (Domino, 2012). Gli arrangiamenti caotici sono astutamente progettati per nascondere la mancanza di immaginazione. Si tratta di una strategia di distrazione (architettata dallo stesso produttore, Ben Allen, che aveva ingannato la massa con Merriweather Post Pavillion). Questa strategia è avvolta in un concetto di sorta: l'album è apparentemente ispirato dall'interferenza radio, cosa che quindi costituisce il trucco primario utilizzato nella produzione sonora. L'apertura Moonjock è emblematica dello stato della band: vi è una melodia alla Beatles d'ultima categoria,  scadenti armonie alla Beach Boys ed effetti sonori di terz'ordine, una combinazione mortale salvata solo alla fine da un'onesta esplosione di giovialità tribale. Quando gli arrangiamenti caotici si attenuano, la scarsa sostanza della musica viene spietatamente rivelata, ad esempio in pezzi tremendamente triviali come Today's  Supernatural  e Wide Eyed. Dove abbiano trovato il coraggio di inserire cose (non chiamiamole "canzoni") come Father Time e New Town Burnout rimarrà un mistero. Panda Bear dovrebbe arrossire per come spreca Rosie Oh: il suo stile vocale è diventato un grande fastidio. L'esuberanza fasulla dell'album è un grave inconveniente anche nelle poche canzoni valide, andando a rovinare anche le progressioni melodiche e le invenzioni ritmiche di Applesauce, il jamming isterico alla Talking Heads di Monkey Riches e il techno-rock esotico in stile Japan di Amanita. Il meglio che si possa dire è che questo album sia una festa poliritmica. Ma non ci si può astenere dal chiedersi se tutto questo non fosse meramente inteso come una presa in giro.

Avey Tare, Angel Deradoorian (formerly of the Dirty Projectors) and Jeremy Hyman (formerly of Ponytail) recorded Enter the Slasher House (2014), credited to Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks. The songs mostly sound like leftovers from the Centipede Hz sessions.

Panda Bear's double-LP Meets the Grim Reaper (Domino, 2015) contains some of his career's best moments: the rhythmic collage of Boys Latin, the morphing of musique concrete into a jovial singalong in Mr Noah, the upbeat and catchy disco shuffle Come to your Senses (one of his most user-friendly songs ever). However, opener Sequential Circuits, the dreamy Tropic Of Cancer, Principe Real (that sounds like a parody of synth-pop), and the final singalong Acid Wash are emblematic of how most of the album's melodies sound tired and the arrangements trivial.

The trio of Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist resurrected for another disappointing album, Painting With (2016). The childish electronica of Lying on the Grass and the robotic rockabilly On Delay sound like unfinished songs. Sometimes the trio sounds like a syncopated version of the New Kids on the Block (Golden Gal) and sometimes they seem to offer different variations on the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. The bombastic production cannot redeem these scruffy compositions. The disorienting vocal polyphony of FloriDada and Recycling is too little to justify the existence of the album. The album was followed by the equally disappointing four-song EP Painters (2017).

Then it was Deakin's turn to debut solo with Sleep Cycle (2016). His songs are longer and more meticulously assembled, despite a humbler bedroom-style production. Especially original is the insanely dissonant Footy. Unfortunately half of the songs are disposable. Nonetheless, it was possibly the best of the solo albums since Panda Bear's Tomboy.

Avey Tare's second solo album Eucalyptus (2017) is a patience-testing experience. Way too long for what Avey Tare has to say, it wastes a lot of time assembling found sounds and random instrumental non-sequiturs. One has to wait until the sixth song, Jackson 5, to hear something that resembles a finished composition. Most of the rest borders the audio collage and the stream of consciousness, attaining a peak of pathos with the time dilation of Selection of a Place. This could have been a three-song EP, including the twisted eight-minute ecological ode Coral Lords.

Avey Tare's third solo album Cows on Hourglass Pond (2019) opens with an acid litany over a minimal techno beat, What's the Goodside, and features a variety of entertaining eccentricities: the galloping Western-movie tinged Saturdays, the trotting and symphonic K.C. Yours, and the atmospheric ballad HORS_. The best moments exude a general feeling of early Pink Floyd. Unfortunately, the album is dragged down by an impressive amount of filler.

Avey Tare and Geologist recorded live in the Amazon Rainforest the five-song EP Meeting of the Waters (2017); and then Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin scored the ambient soundtrack for the video Tangerine Reef (2018), a collaboration with Coral Morphologic (marine biologist Colin Foord and composer J.D. McKay).

Panda Bear's Buoys (Domino, 2019) was not only uninspired: it was also sloppy. Even songs like Inner Monologue that could have been intriguing were left unfinished.

The members of Animal Collective seemed on a mission to destroy their own reputation.

Hollinndagain (2002), Animal Crack Box (2009), Live at 9:30 (2015) and Ballet Slippers (2019) document live performances of the Animal Collective.

It takes a lot of patience to go through the EP Bridge to Quiet (2020). One song, though, is worthy to be included in their canon: Piggy Knows, although it takes forever to get started, a cross between early Pink Floyd, an Indian raga and a pow-wow dance.

Time Skiffs (2022), Animal Collective's first album in a decade featuring all four core members, contains We Go Back and Often this is harmless background muzak concocted by injecting lazy elements of exotica in trivial pop litanies (the embarrassing opener Dragon Slayer, the even more embarrassing Walker). The eight-minute Cherokee almost rescues this inane exotica thanks to an accelerated ska rhythm and pulsing Tangerine Dream-esque electronica, but the repetition stretches out for way too long. This feeling of exotic vacation extends all the way to the languid, slow-motion, Fleet Foxes-esque soul ballad Royal and Desire that closes the album. Vague echoes of their heavy-layered psychedelia can be found in the coda of Car Keys (if one skips the song itself) and in the lush vocal harmonies of Prester John (but the song is way too repetitive and ends with a childish sound collage). Maybe the real highlight is a diligent imitation of bubblegum-pop of the 1960s and Brit-pop of the 1990s: Strung With Everything.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )