Hard to believe these guys have their tenth–yes, tenth!–album on the way this coming Friday.
The speed at which Animal Collective became a sensation in the early ‘00s was so quick that I personally faced a backlash about them before the front-lash even hit. Someone in high school was going on about how they didn’t get what all the hype was about — and I hadn’t even heard a single song. Fascinated, I put on the avant-garde-jazz-psychedelic song “Alvin Row”, and I felt a hysterical, frantic energy from being drenched in equal parts beauty and noise, songs sounding like sponges feeding ferociously off New York with dense layers of vocals wrapping around unsettlingly frail rhythms. Heck, I was baffled. Pop was now in a realm where normal could be altered and experimented into the eccentric? I finally understood the hype.
Although that first album, Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished, was written by only two of four members, Avey Tare and Panda Bear, they didn’t do things in halves. The pair form a diptych of similar but contrasting work. Listening to their melodic, call-and-response vocals (a cubist approach to music, stitching seemingly disparate sounds) further proves their remarkable skill for ushering bizarre, coherent ideas into accessible avant-pop music. But this wasn’t a collective who used experimental pop as the only colors on their palette. Since then, they have managed to become even more unexpectedly strange over the last 16 years, jolting from electronica to psychedelic noise to acid folk.
This Consequence of Sound interview with the band reveals some interesting points:
So you’re only 37, and you’ve made 10 albums, five solo albums, nine EPs, live albums, and been professionally active for 15 years. Is it easy to get perspective, looking back on 2005’s Feels, or even 2003’s Here Comes the Indian, and seeing how your current career and creative life compare to what you were dreaming about when you were younger?
It’s actually really similar in that I feel like my aspirations, or my dreams you could say, when I was younger mattered to me a lot, but I can’t say that they were really grand. As soon as we started traveling and playing shows, that far exceeded any expectation I had about making music. Ever since then, every day, every tour, every record has been a surprise. I like it like that. I feel like I’d lose my way if I had a big game plan.
Considering how much improvisation comes into play in your music, that really resonates. If you had everything planned out and it didn’t go according to plan, it devalues everything you valued so highly as an artist. That’s deadly.
I feel like I’m a pretty impulsive kind of person. I guess I like to keep my options open. It’s a long and winding road, this life, so if something pops up, I’m ready. Looking back, I’ve made what seems like rash decisions to me now. Sometimes I just feel like it’s the right thing to do, because I’m an all-my-money-on-one-horse type of guy.
Read the entire interview here.