Shifting neo-psychedelic soundscapes are burnished with acoustic-bathed wistfulness; a latent melodic sensibility underpinning the pliable prowess that has shaped much of the LA-based artist's output to date. Eclipsing the calypso-tinged ennui of Eucalyptus, Portner excises over-wrought excess in favour of honed baroque pop songcraft; delivering the polished crossover mastery which earned Merriweather Post Pavilion broad acclaim a decade ago. This is a blueprint adhered to on a third solo release steeped in synth-drenched iridescence; a tapestry of kaleidoscopic strands which cohere in an organic synthesis, rarely jarring.
The third solo album from Animal Collective co-founder Avey Tare is very much a continuation of the sound he established on 2017's 'Eucalyptus' - a stunning blend of acoustic instruments with warped sound effects and a psychedelic production. It's a dreamy delight from the very start, with opener 'What's The Goodside?' setting an early benchmark. Soft, harp-like strums and a simple, lo-fi beat move the song along while signature woozy vocals recount his latest acid fantasy ("we're getting old now, babies are for milking", anyone?).
The Lowdown: If you dig into the records of Animal Collective co-frontman Dave Portner, you’ll soon hit water. It’s the main form of matter on his band’s 2009 classic Merriweather Post Pavilion, as well as Tangerine Reef, 2018’s inscrutable sans-Panda AnCo outing produced in support of coral reef conservation, but it also laps around the edges of his work as Avey Tare. That remains true on Cows on Hourglass Pond, Tare’s latest record that feels, from the jump, like a natural culmination of the work begun on his previous two solo outings of this decade.
As Animal Collective ventures further into jam band territory, Avey Tare's solo work pulls in the opposite direction, providing a much needed respite from the literal minded excess that has marked the band's more recent output. Avey tends to release his solo works as means of processing difficult personal crises. Down There saw our beloved troubadour retreating into the swamp with a murky broth of electronic loops and buzzy analog synths, while his most recent album Eucalyptus was a misty folk cycle driven mostly by mossy acoustic guitars layered on top of samples unearthed from the brush.
Dave Portner's music swings between extremes. On the one hand, there's the kinetic overload of Animal Collective records like Strawberry Jam, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and Centipede Hz--fast, colorful cars on a curvy road, their windshields bug-spattered Rorschach blots. On the other, an array of murkier, more mysterious sounds and moods, like the reverent hush of Campfire Songs or the ruminant narcosis of Down There, Portner's first solo album as Avey Tare.