Thursday, April 27, 2017

Animal Collective - Meeting Of The Waters Review

There's something to be said about artists who begin their career with a sound wholly unique, only for time, age, and popularity to wither that charm down to a fraction of the inane creativity that once was. Quite succinctly, that defines Animal Collective, purveyors of the 2000's Indie movement, not because of the influence they'd inflict on the genre, but because of the singularity their music brought. But with time comes change, and over the course of their nearly two-decade career, Animal Collective have slowly but surely regressed to an ingestible norm. Gone were the days of limitless experimentation, replaced instead by basic forms of Psychedelic Pop, last seen on the group's forgettable 2016 record Painting With. However, it's my line of thinking that no matter how far innovative musicians remove themselves from their origins, that artistic side never fully dissipates. We saw it last year with Sleep Cycle, Deakin's long-awaited solo project, and one that succeeded in every right by returning to the fertile lands of Animal Collective's 2000's run. In fact, I believe it's that exact LP that fueled Avey Tare's and Geologist's venture into a Brazilian rainforest to create Meeting Of The Waters. They wanted to experiment once more, and while the product's not thoroughly stunning, it proves Animal Collective hasn't lost sight of what made them peerless.

From the get-go, Meeting Of The Waters, a four-track EP released exclusively for Record Store Day, wastes no time taking listeners back to a simpler time. There's no frantic pace, no rush to grab your attention, no barrage of instrumentation. Patience hasn't been seen on an Animal Collective record since 2010's seminal Merriweather Post Pavilion, and even then it was only selectively through the kaleidoscopic medley's that would go on to define their post-MPP career. Here though, with the lengthy 'Blue Noses,' Avey Tare and Geologist allow the air to breathe, waiting over two-minutes before inviting a sole acoustic guitar to strum hesitantly into the mix. The arid Field Recording's bookending 'Blue Noses' bring about similarities to Here Comes The Indian, while Avey Tare's musical elements, that of his vocals and guitar, bear resemblance to Sung Tongs' folksy feel, namely 'Visiting Friends.' Much of the same sentiments can be applied to the B-side as well, with the Electronica of Spirit They're Gone colliding with the hushed, Ambient heartstrings of Prospect Hammer. 'Amazonawana / Anaconda Opportunity' and 'Selection Of A Place' tiptoe this line, distancing themselves slightly from AnCo's older works by finding consistency in the erratic static fray.

While that B-side will appeal to fans who fawn over Animal Collective's eclectic past, the aimlessness and indecisiveness throughout the 13 or so minutes has me on the fence. The strange fidgets and lush noises are pleasant, as is Tare's timid singing, but there's nothing that latches onto me considering the catchiness factor, one half of AnCo's engulfing melting pot, is all but absent. The same can't be said for 'Man Of Oil' though, which is easily Meeting Of The Waters' calling card. The A-side finale relishes in the excess material leftover whilst curtailing the other three tracks, providing a mid-EP climax that fulfills every type of fan's itch. It's also on 'Man Of Oil' where the clear Sleep Cycle inspiration lies, as Tare's faint-hearted cooing and mournful lyrics fall in line with Deakin's apprehensions that were laid all over that record. And while I believed Avey Tare's eccentricities never left him, the same couldn't be said for his woeful melancholy, something I felt was surely dead in the water, especially coming off the high of The Painters. For everything the EP sets out to do though, I wouldn't take it as anything more than Avey Tare and Geologist following through on an interesting idea. Meeting Of The Waters is like a retreat of sorts, through a shrouded rainforest, to reflect on an age where musical discovery came naturally.

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