Monday, October 19, 2015


Animal Collective reconvened and took their time turning out this emotional dance up through an accidental truth gate in a broken cartoon show.   The group has its roots in childhood, as Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) and Josh Dibb (Deakin) knew each other in elementary school in Baltimore before Lennox moved away to Pennsylvania.  Dibb met David Portner (Avey Tare) and Brian Weitz (Geologist) in high school where they formed a band called Automine, which self released a 7-inch-single Padington Band in 1995.

In 1997, they all went to different colleges, Lennox and Dibb in the Boston area (Boston University and Brandeis University), while Portner and Weitz went to New York City (NYU and Columbia University).  During this time,  Lennox and Dibb put together Lennox's debut album, Panda Bear, on  their own label, Soccer Star Records.

In 2000, Avey Tare and Panda Bear put out Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished on their own Animal label.  In 2001, Danse Manatee came out on the Catsup Plate label under the name of Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Geologist.  A limited edition live release Hollinndagain was put out in 2002 on the  Secretly Canadian subsidiary,  St. Ives.  Their next album Campfire Songs was recorded on the screened-in porch of Portner's aunt in Monkton, Maryland in one take.  It came out on Catsup Plate in 2003.  It was around this time that Dibb began performing with the group.

They adopted the moniker Animal Collective and created a new label Paw Tracks with Todd Hyman for the release of  Here Comes the Indian in 2003.   Wietz and Dibb took a break from the band while Lennox and Portner recorded Sung Tongs  for Fat Cat Records in 2004.  Weitz and Dibb rejoined the group in 2005, during which time the group recorded the Prospect Hummer EP with Vashti Bunyan.

Feels was recorded in Seattle with engineer Scott Colburn.  The sessions also included Doctess on piano and Eyvind Kang on violin.  

Geologist:    "Part of the reason we started playing live and releasing records, in 2000 I think, was to react against what we saw happening in late 90s indie rock. It was so intellectual and a lot of it lacked emotion. There isn’t a lot of irony in our music because we relate to music on a more pure, emotional level...A lot of us have been in more serious relationships this past year, so we figured Feels would be our “love” record. It’s not exactly childlike this time. Only some of our records really touch on childlike innocence, or the innocence of nature, but there’s still similar themes throughout about touching our lives and feelings, instead of intellectual concepts that we don’t have any connection to...We use lots of...found sounds, field recordings, electronics, feedback...a lot of times they sound like something they are not. We like liquidy sounds, but it’s often something different than just a stream or a faucet. But I won’t really go too deep into our approach on a technical level — I’m not trying to be secretive or anything, I just can’t think of an ordered process. It’s more like having fun and thinking about how a sound fits with the mood and color and feel of a song. We just use our bunch of effects and play around. Again, very little computer manipulation. We like turning knobs and faders and such. We’ve been doing it since high school, way before the laptop explosion, and we just stayed old school for the most part...I would say the only boundaries we fight against are ourselves and our past. But it’s not too hard. We consciously try and move beyond what we’ve done before. Well not necessarily beyond, but away from. There are certain instruments we like, but I’m not sure they are crutches so to speak. We obviously like vocals, guitars, pianos, electronics, and percussion. But we try and change the dynamic between those things from record to record in order to explore more musical possibilities. If we create something that reminds us too much of something we’ve done before, or that we think could easily fit onto a past album of ours, we abandon it. We’ve covered that ground already, and it’s time to look forward."

Avey Tare:    "I think just what seems comfortable–a lot of it these days has to do with that we do in our alone time. Not the ideas we come up with together since we’re not together so much. If we have a lot of time to think about things and work on stuff, it takes like a week and a half to come up with new ideas. Right now we want it to be a really slow process. Like just how long we worked on Feels–how it expanded in our brains and how we’re still playing some of it live–I think it takes a little while to move to a new place. We want it to be slow so it feels like the inspiration is actually there...In my perfect musical world a person could understand the lyrics or not understand the lyrics as they wanted. Initially, with writing music that included vocals, it was primarily the goal (and still is) to have the voice be seen as another instrument, as having a very integrated role in the overall scheme of a song. Though our song writing has become a little more focused on vocals than it had been in the past, it would still feel awkward to only focus on hearing the lyrics. Just as we like sounds to fit in with the color and feel of a song, I’d say we approach vocals in a very similar manner...For our new record I think it’s the first time where the lyrics are basically from my point of view. I guess I just feel like I wanted to say something and that’s the way it came out...But the music and the vocals will always be very attached and I think, most of the time, the lyrics get lost in the sound anyway, which is fine cause I don’t necessarily think lyrics are that important to getting into a song, as long as the feeling stays intact and the emotion doesn’t get lost — though it’s nice to think that people could know them if they wanted."

Deakin:    "The word “collective” is oddly touchy for us because it has a certain political air. The idea of calling ourselves a collective was for our own state of mind. We weren’t thinking of it in a broader sense. We’re a fairly exclusive collective. There are people are in our lives that we work with who we consider part of it, in a way, but we aren’t a collective in the big sense. We’ve known each other since we were kids, and really enjoy doing this together. We don’t want to just form a regular band where it’s like “he plays guitar, he plays bass, and I sing.” We came up with the idea in college, when we couldn’t always all work together. Originally, our records had their own titles without band names attached. It’s this idea of creating an environment where you’re not wed to specific habits. Habit contributes to complacency. We wanted to allow for as much change and development as possible. My perception of collectives is that there is some kind of collective consciousness that is an element for us, but mostly we’re strong individuals who have different ideas and like to share them with each other...I hate to generalize, but there have been lots of new approaches to music and art in the past five, six years. We’re trying to get music and art back to expressing itself on some visceral level, not just being something on display that you look at and analyze. There shouldn’t be a wall between us and the audience. A lot of bands are into creating physical sound right now, and some of it I’m not even that psyched on, but I’m glad it’s happening."

Panda Bear:   "This album’s the same and different at the same time in terms of childhood stuff. We’re talking about more mature adult topics, so there is a bit of the sour mixed in with the sweet. The way we like to describe experiences from childhood or see things in a childlike way, the uninhibited, anything goes, everything is new attitude, that’s all still there on Feels. In that way, our music is always the same. Now, the kinds of relationships we talk about are more adult, but the spirit of creating the music is still anything goes. Keep it new, fresh, and explore stuff...Confusion is another way to describe childhood illusion. When I was younger, I’d get fevers, so sick that I would feel crazy. I would go to places I’d never been to, in terms of hallucinating. Weird kid dreams are really confusing...Vocally, it starts when you go, “I want to use my voice to sing but not just to sing words. I want to use my voice like an instrument.” There are all kinds of things you can do with your voice in terms of tone, pitch, the color of it. You can tweak it any which way you want. For some people, it’s all about the message, but we have a lot of fun making weird sounds with our voices. With instruments and effects, one goal of ours is to make it not sound like what we’re using, to disguise the means. But with the voice, you don’t need to use effects on it so much because you can mask it in all kinds of ways. It’s the ultimate instrument...In the past year, a lot of the issues we’ve had with each other have been resolved. We’ve always been tight in the sense that a relationship with a person is an ongoing thing, and of course it’s not always perfect. We’ve made huge steps, and we understand each other better than ever. We’re having so much fun hanging out. Now, since we live far apart, when we do get together to play music or tour we’re immediately psyched to be best friends again. Three out of four of us have been affected by love in the past year, so there’s lots of emotion there. Feels sounds positive because it’s all about good times. There’s no room for abrasion on this one because everything is sweet. No matter how much work I do, I’m happy to do it."


full album:

All songs written and composed by Animal Collective.

1. "Did You See the Words"   5:15
2. "Grass"   2:59
3. "Flesh Canoe"   3:44
4. "The Purple Bottle"   6:48
5. "Bees"   5:38
6. "Banshee Beat"   8:22
7. "Daffy Duck"   7:34
8. "Loch Raven"   4:59
9. "Turn into Something"   6:29
Total length:   51:48

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