Animal Collective – Meeting of the Waters

For the first time since the founding of the collective, Avey Tare and Geologist work as a duo and together they produce one of the best Animal Collective projects of the decade so far. While I really enjoyed the collectives last album, the fast paced and fart synthesizer heavy project Painting With, it was met with a pretty mixed reception from both fans and critics alike. While I thought the project had some of the collectives most interesting songwriting to date, with lots of key changes and fast hockety hooks, those very things were probably what turned the majority of the haters off from the album. Meeting of the Waters however is a sort of return to their early sound, with lots of field recordings and slow paced more freely structured music. So while there has always been a clear progression of the collectives albums, this project sounds like it could have been released 10 years ago.

The entire EP was recorded in the Amazon rainforest, which results in a very jungley and watery soundscape. Geologist samples everything there is to sample in a rainforest and it does a great job of setting the mood. The opening track Blue Noses is a 13 minute long campfire like song with slowly strummed guitars and frog chirps that makes you want to close your eyes and dream away to the mysterious as fuck lands of the Amazon river, without the trouble of actually having to go there, which is nice because it’s actually really far from here. Like It’s literally on the other side of the world from me. Anyways, the AnCo songs-that-flow-seamlessly-into-each-other trademark makes a return and the next track, which is also the best track on the EP, Man of Oil starts before you even noticed the track changed. The track has a nice jazzy electric guitar chord progression and a catchy sample based hook. The constant sample in the background that works as percussion reminds me of Golden Chords from other member Deakins last year album. It also features some of the best vocals to come out of Avey Tare ever. He sings softly and in a high register, and his delivery is great with every line being delivered with real emotional weight under it. The lyrics are longing and filled to da brink, da very brink, with emotion.

I woke to sweats in the night

Strange sensation to feel alive

I find it so hard to tell you

I’m afraid to forget the smell of you

Oh man, all that emotion. The EP brings the slow paced and mysterious mood to the next level with the next track, Amazonawana / Anaconda Opportunity. The track is all instrumental and does a good job of keeping the dream-away-to-the-amazon-river mood intact. Finishing track Selection of a Place – Rio Negro Version is another EP highlight, with plucking guitars and insect field recordings. While this EP works as a return to their earlier sound, I do not think it necessarily is a sign of things to come but more of a one time thing and I expect the next Animal Collective album to sound more like to how the logical next step from Painting With would sound like, which I to be honest, have almost no idea what that is. But for all the fans out there that have been dying to hear the more freeform, field recording heavy and slow Animal Collective, stop dying, it’s here.

7/10

Little Dragons Season High Review

Little Dragons has me disappointed, because for a band who can do so much, they left me wanting so much more

 

 

Little Dragons has been everywhere and done everything but somehow cannot bring any of that experience into their own music. Lead Yukimi Nagano finds stellar collabs on Big Boi´s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors and Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach, but the Swedish based pop group hasn’t been able to translate that same quality to their own works.

 

For a band who has been coming to their own via huge features on progressive albums with huge casts, Little Dragons’ latest album Season High feels like just more of the same, and not in a best hits kind of way. Rather than bring in some of their wide catalog of collaborators, Little Dragons finds comfort in controlled, technical mood music that lacks its own identity. Season High feels like an extension of Nabuma Rubberband, but without any growth from the band’s other collaborations.

 

There’s no doubt that Season High doesn’t have the tried and true Little Dragons polish, but in an over-explored 80’s throw back soundscape, that technical precision isn’t enough to carry the album. Overall it just feels dispassionate, another forced album to complete a contract with no real soul or feeling despite its R&B feel. For all the references to the greats, their seems to be no inspiration or strong influences. Nagano seems almost bored. In a band that thrived on presence, she seems to be more of a mouth piece for bland, flat songs that she has no interest in.

 

For a band that has been pushing a narrative of going back to their own work, bringing the collars into their own music, it seems that thought was forgotten in the recording room. As much as Little Dragons wants to be their own entity, it seems they just cursed themselves to be that band you heard of on someone else’s album. Their collaborations have been great, but they need to take a moment and find the magic we see they can have, within their own music sphere.

 

If it was 2010 and this was Little Dragons’ debut album, I would be excited to see what they have to offer, but now I’m wondering if they’ve just run their course.

 

I give Season High a 4.7/10