Release Date: Sep 4, 2012
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Midway through the 10th Animal Collective album, Josh "Deakin" Dibb shouts, "I get wide-eyed! Wide-eyed!" into infinity – like some kind of psychedelic drill sergeant leading a battalion of dream warriors into battle against the forces of droopylidded normalcy. It's a fitting salvo: AC are the pre-eminent mystic seekers of the Brooklyn indie-rock demimonde – what the Grateful Dead were to the San Francisco ballroom scene or what Television were to CBGB punk. Though they started off in the early '00s crafting artisanal noise jams, they came into their own pursuing sweeping beauty for its own dilated sake, mixing fractured Beach Boys vocals, gyric dance beats and geeked-out melodic grandeur into highpower serotonin slushies like 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Animal CollectiveCentipede Hz[Domino; 2012]By FM Stringer; September 4, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGRecently, a friend of mine and I were discussing a nugget he'd heard from a mutual mentor of ours: when a thing recurs once in a piece of art, it's a repetition - an echo, affirmation, or simultaneous point A and B carving a circle in a flat plane, among plenty of like devices. When a thing recurs twice or more times, however, it forms a pattern, and should be considered a system of its own alongside the systemic or fractal machines in art, geometry, and in the world - especially nature - that possess, generate, or inspire meaning through the enactment of that pattern. Nobody who has even seen the Merriweather Post Pavilion cover art would raise an eyebrow at the notion that Animal Collective is interested in patterns, and it's valuable to keep that fascination in mind when spelunking the mammoth, complicated musical dialogues that become the awesome Centipede Hz, an album as much in conversation with broadcasting as a communicative action as it is the condition of being alive in 2012.
That Animal Collective would eventually discover what the internet is- Panda Bear claiming to have discovered Twitter, say no more- was a dangerous idea to play with. It suggested, to my idiot mind, a bunch of woodlanders discovering and wanting to burn the artificial evil. Olde rituals aside, though, Animal Collective have now written a song about songs- “Monkey Riches,” an actualisation of Animal Collective as a ‘band’, of sorts- but its execution is strangely quite perfect: “makes me wonder how I even wrote this song / does this not occur to almost everyone?” Avey Tare sings- more like, postulates- as if reaching above the earthy album he’s writing.
It’s tempting to say that Centipede Hz ultimately has more in common with the frightened, emotional chaos of Strawberry Jam and Here Comes the Indian than with the blissed-out singles of Merriweather Post Pavilion and Feels. But what it shares with that latter set of records is a still-shocking devotion to traditional songcraft. The further afield of traditional instrumentation Animal Collective get, the tighter they rein in their compositional excesses.
The hesitation on the lyric “Let it go” during Centipede Hz’s second track, Today’s Supernatural, is a surprisingly apt summation of the album as a whole. With the wildly acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009, Animal Collective had made their poppiest album, mostly conforming to familiar structures and instrumentation, letting their songwriting and textured production do the heavy lifting. Here, they try to let that pop-edge go, relying on extremely crowded production (adjusting on first listen will take even the biggest fans a few tracks), memories of radio transmissions and commercials, and what they call their “garage-rock roots” (though the results are decidedly more psychedelic).
“All technologies converge toward the same spot, they all lead to a Deus ex Machina, a machine-God. In a way, technologies have negated the transcendental God in order to invent the machine-God.” –Paul Virilio Meme: “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”/ m?m?ma, “something imitated” The world is transitioning into a more pragmatic perspective. Self-awareness or, more specifically, being aware of being self-aware has us heading toward a new “metamodernist” end.
You can make a good argument that Animal Collective is the first essential band wholly born and raised in the online era, a zeitgeist-defining act that could only have attained the status it has the way it has during this particular period in pop music history. Sure, other groups have earned just as much critical acclaim and greater popularity thanks to the Interwebs—Arcade Fire immediately comes to mind—but it’s not a stretch to claim that none better reflects and represents the cultural moment than Animal Collective does. In contrast to those with retro-minded approaches or who have more obvious touchstones for their sound, Animal Collective feels like it came along at the right place and time, with a frenetic, referential, deeply complex aesthetic that captures how disorienting, nerve-wracking, but also how thrilling, our hyperlinked, socially networked world can be.
There will be two popular responses to Animal Collective’s ninth LP. The first – the one that has accompanied each and every brain-fart the Baltimorean quartet have issued since 2004’s ‘Sung Tongs’ – is gushing, knee-jerk (and not always unjustified) praise. That much almost goes without saying. The second, no less inevitably, will be paroxysms of outrage and disappointment: virgin territory for the blogosphere’s most feted band.
If it's possible to condense Animal Collective's 12-year career in a single line, Avey Tare does the trick when, deep into Centipede Hz, he cries, "Why am I still looking for a golden age?" By all measurable standards, this is Animal Collective's golden age: Their last album, 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion, capped a remarkable decade-long journey that saw the band evolve from psych-folk recording project to top-billed digi-pop tweakers. But their popularity hasn't made them any more populist. Even as their songs have grown more melodically and emotionally accessible, their music has grown ever more indefinable.
Looking back at their early years, it’s hard to believe that Animal Collective would sound so comfortable sitting at the top of the indie music world. At one point, Feels sounded remarkably mainstream for the Baltimore four-piece, but their organic, space amoeba-like growth led to progressively larger audiences without losing any of their weird edge. They migrated all the way from manatee dancing and campfire singalongs to headlining festivals in trippy glory akin to the Grateful Dead.
Review Summary: Things We Lost in the ClutterWhat I’m about to say might not appear particularly momentous or important, but it’s taken me months to admit this to myself, let alone work up the courage to try and explain it to people, so here goes:I don’t like Centipede Hz as much as I love other Animal Collective albums, and that’s not my fault.Cut me some slack here; if you’ve ever strolled through an indie thread on this prestigious website, then chances are this isn’t the first time you’ve heard how grossly over-devoted to the Baltimore quartet I am. I’m the type of person who got super hyped about Centipede Hz because Deakin. I’ve seen them twice live and didn’t leave disappointed either time.
“Sometimes you gotta go get mad!” The full gang reconvene in Baltimore for a feral but friendly ninth…Animal Collective are a group enamoured by the process of their own evolution, reliable only in the sense that every one of their records is reliably different. As with Charles Darwin’s theory, there’s no predestination here, no clear end in mind. Rather, this unassuming bunch of Baltimore nature kids have always made a point of adapting to their environment – whatever or wherever that might be.The last five years alone have witnessed a bewildering catalogue of mutations.
With 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective delivered on the seemingly unattainable level of promise that had grown with each release since their beginnings. Ever-shifting, the woolly freak folk of 2003's Sung Tongs gave way to subsequent albums Feels and Strawberry Jam, which were influenced in equal parts by minimal techno and Syd Barrett-esque psychedelic rock. Big beats, pop hooks, heightened production, and Animal Collective's patented freakiness combined into a perfect storm with MPP, and countless new fans were exposed to the band for the first time.
Ah, the indiesphere, early 2009. Crazy time, crazy place. To a few thousand internet people, the release of Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion seemed like a happening of such monolithic import that the inauguration of Barack Obama, continued implosion of the world’s economy, etcetera, etcetera felt like trivial, even presumptuous distractions in comparison.
If you feel like ratcheting up the anxiety in your life, Animal Collective's newest album could be your soundtrack. The Baltimore psych-experimental rock band's ninth begins in a youthful and joyous way, but the exuberance unravels into something close to obnoxious chaos. Gone are the Beach Boysesque harmonies and calm sonic oases that made 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion so wondrous and inviting.
How many Animals does it take to form a Collective? Two, officially. This minimum quorum has ensured maximum wriggle room for such an expanding, contracting band of psychedelic brothers, originally from Baltimore. They go by aliases – Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin, Geologist – and don't always all turn up; all of which just adds to the Collective's burgeoning myth.
It only takes two ears to enjoy Animal Collective, even if you view them as a menace in the long run. “Summertime Clothes,” “Peacebone,” “My Girls,” the more excavated “Banshee Beat” and Panda Bear’s solo “Carrots” (or whatever the final third of “Good Girl/Carrots” is known as) are some of the prettiest, most guileless melodies the indie world has ever claimed. They’re even glued to occasional insights: “Weave through the cardboard, smell that trash” should be relatable to anyone who’s spent a stinky summer in Brooklyn.
There are really two Animal Collective stories. There's the band's hopscotch artistic development – a self-confessed desire to never make the same record twice – which has led them through 15 years of campfire meditations, clattering psychedelia, cacophonic noise-pop and a host of other spliced genres. In parallel to this is a more linear growth in cult and cultural status, with each new release winning more converts.
You've got to give Animal Collective this: the group doesn't sit still. Though certainly the band has an approach that links all its myriad albums and EPs, no two really sound alike. Every time out, Animal Collective wipes the slate clean and starts anew to some extent. There's carry over, sure, but mostly each album is a new musical tangent.
Highly anticipated? Yep. Good? Uhm... It’s fair to say that following the unprecedented success of the ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ – and in particular the ubiquitous ‘My Girls’ – ‘Centipede Hz’ represents Animal Collective’s most anticipated record to date. And although it’s almost guaranteed to receive critical adulation, this is a difficult album to love.
Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs was a burst of weird forestrial noise, a distillation of the freakiest parts of the freak-folk movement, and probably the best album the band will ever release. It was a collection of unpredictable songs united by an eerie sense of cultic repetition. Since then, the band has kept up a habit of experimentalism, but has really only pushed in one steady direction, their music growing busier, denser, and more hectic.
Simply naming an album Feels just seems like the most sincere and genuine ‘declaration’ Animal Collective could have ever come up with for their 2004 album. Subtly blunt, the masterpiece’s ebb and flow was a continuous outpour of rushing gusts (“Grass”), culminating and dynamic growers (“Banshee Beat”) and radiantly beautiful (“Loch Raven”) strokes of genius. To sense and feel their degrees by color, by sound, by touch was impossibly plausible with Feels.
When psych-pop pioneers Animal Collective say they're going "back to basics," you really have to take it with a grain of salt. Coming off 2009's career-defining Merriweather Post Pavilion, the Collective return with Centipede Hz, an album that shows the band putting down their drum machines and mixers in favour of more organic instrumentation. But don't let the boys fool you: Animal Collective are still at the top of their game, broadcasting a dub-inflected set of atmospheric jams that veer away from Pavilion's linear songwriting and back towards the limitless soundscapes of their early years.
A listener can drop in at almost any point in Animal Collective’s decade-plus career and find a likeable piece of music with which to connect. 2007’s Strawberry Jam was most accessible through the primal screams of “Fireworks”; 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion had the thumping “My Girls. ” But on the band’s ninth full-length, Centipede Hz, the four-piece don’t make that entry point quite as clear—which gives the listener all the more reason to listen.
Cast your mind back to the good old days of secondary school physics lessons. That musty old lab with its rickety shelves, stuffed with jars of chemicals with iodine stained labels. The faded periodic table with curling corners pinned onto the wall. That little battered machine called an oscilloscope that showed bright little green waves on a circular screen as your decrepit lab teacher twiddled various dials and wittered on about something called a Hz.
A ninth studio set that will infect you, quite deliciously, for the foreseeable. Mike Diver 2012 Back to a four-piece following the return of Josh Dibb (aka Deakin), who ducked out of the band’s 2009 critical hit Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective have dived deeper into their neon-lit rabbit hole for this ninth album. Centipede Hz is dense and detailed, invigorating and intoxicating.
On “Centipede Hz,” Animal Collective’s ninth full-length album, the experimental pop crew bounces off the walls in fits of nervous energy. The record trades in the sample-heavy immersion of the band’s 2009 breakthrough, “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” for a hectic frenzy of sounds, often propelled by Panda Bear’s return to a live drum kit. Lead single “Today’s Supernatural” reels around start-stop rhythms and synth-organ runs, while Avey Tare yelps louder than he has in years.
What’s your favorite iteration of Animal Collective? It’s a tough question for both fans and detractors of the band to answer because so few groups have made such a sport out of changing so rapidly while still retaining the primary qualities that either attracted or repelled people in the first place. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which version of Animal Collective the band itself wants to be and, perhaps more so than all its other albums, the band’s newest record, Centipede Hz, is a testament to that. There’s a sense of play at work in the best Animal Collective songs, and the tracks collected on Centipede Hz are some of the group’s most rambunctious to date.
MATCHBOX TWENTY“North” (Atlantic) To: The men of Matchbox Twenty, especially Rob ThomasFrom: ManagementSubject: Relevance Gents, new album! It’s been a decade since the last one, not counting those tossed-off tracks on the greatest-hits comp a few years back. (“Exile on Mainstream!” — hoo boy, that just gets me every time!) Anyhow, it’s been 16 years since your first album. Congratulations! By which I mean it’s been 16 years since your first album, so what are you guys doing? Everyone here at the company is, natch, extremely excited that you guys brought the old ride into the shop for a tuneup.