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.