First Listen: Animal Collective "Centipede Hz"

“A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of ‘creating transformation'”, as far as Wikipedia is concerned. Seen this way, Animal Collective is a very spiritual band, as they build their tracks on the repetition of words, some more sensible, some not at all. The voices of Avey Tare, Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) and – this is new, I think – Deakin are the single most important element on their records, supported mainly by the percussion section. As any mantra, it doesn’t neccessarily make work for the outsider, or on the first listen in general.

Taking their new album “Centipede Hz” for a spin the first time, one can not help but feel a bit confused, or even overwhelmed. But knowing their previous releases and their solo projects, you already know you are up for a challenge with them, and that is kind of a joy too. And you also know that the repeated listens will let you get in on their secret and let you appreciate the hidden beauty of it all, later on. They all got their different styles, Tare being more weird and ecstatic, Lennox more hypnotic and Deakin… well, a bit flat in comparison, but a nice change.

Animal Collective released three tracks in the past months, and listening to them I have to admit that I was somewhat worried that I would not like “Centipede Hz” very much. Honeycomb and Gotham were kind of mediocre and very accessible, and from then on I was initially biased towards “Today’s Supernatural”. But the first two luckily didnt make it on the record, and the latter did really grow on me. Although it is a loud and into-your-face single, its “supernatural”, spiritual side become apparent in the second verse where it tones down for a bit.

So now “Centipede Hz” is streaming on their website, regularly released on Domino on September 9th. “Today’s Supernatural” was placed right after the opener “Moonjock”, which is quite as hectic and hymnal, but the album tones down a bit after that. This is mainly due to Lennox and Deakin singing, and the band uses the strengths and weaknesses of the different vocalists very nicely to vary the pace of the album over its eleven tracks. My favorites from the start were “Applesauce” and “New Town Burnout”, but speaking from experience with their past records that changes with time, as you get initiated slowly, step by step.

But for the time being, I can only say with certainty that I am once again amazed with the thing that is Animal Collective, one of the most important and singular bands in indie music right now. They surely didn’t let us down on this one. An once you know their mantras by heart, “Centipede Hz” will have transformed for you and even grown deeper and deeper. I can feel that already happening to me.

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