Your Choice Way

Animal Collective - Time Skiffs Music Album Reviews

Animal Collective - Time Skiffs Music Album Reviews
After a prolific period of experimentation, Animal Collective return with an album that achieves a peaceful equilibrium between their immersive 3D soundscaping and innate melodic charms.

Animal Collective navigated their first decade as if lost in some surreal and splendorous dream. From 2000’s Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished to 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, the quartet functioned like a perpetually mutating organism, reshaping their sound and character not just album-to-album, but occasionally mid-sentence. But in response to Merriweather’s crossover success, they would spend much of the following decade acclimatizing to the waking world as a festival-ready force that had to concern itself with hitting the back rows. Their records became more over-the-top and in-your-face, and felt less like drifting through a dream than listening to someone manically reenact theirs. Through a combination of solo projects, familial obligations, and transatlantic living, the band that once used the stage as their sandbox was confined to studio-scheduled creativity: Their 2016 album, Painting With, was the first Animal Collective album that didn’t get workshopped in a live setting before being committed to tape.

But since then, Animal Collective have been overcompensating for those limitations in the most wonderful of ways. Even when you factor in pandemic shutdowns, the past half-decade has been one of the most prolific stretches of this group’s career, yielding field-recording experiments, audiovisual projects, and soundtracks that have rekindled their improvisatory impulses. And, Sung Tongs anniversary tour notwithstanding, their live performances once again became communal woodshedding experiences. Beginning with a mini-residency at New Orleans’ Music Box Village in 2018, Animal Collective previewed a bounty of new material, some of which, naturally, has changed quite radically over the years. Following much YouTubed documentation, a handful of extended, more abstract tracks officially surfaced on 2020’s Bridge to Quiet EP. Time Skiffs is the long-awaited climax to this period of prodigious exploration—an album that achieves a peaceful equilibrium between Animal Collective’s immersive 3D soundscaping and innate melodic charms. Call it an Animal Corrective.

With its inviting ambiance, unhurried vibe, and ebullient group harmonies, Time Skiffs readily conjures warm memories of AnCo’s late-2000s halcyon days. But the album possesses a personality and methodology all its own. Over the years, Animal Collective’s free-flowing aesthetic, lovey-dovey sentiments, and fondness for tie-dye have garnered any number of Grateful Dead comparisons, but this is the first record where they sound like an actual jam band. While Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) has traditionally used his drum kit to heighten the clamor of the group’s most chaotic moments, here, he plays the steady timekeeper governed by a dubby discipline. The album’s two opening tracks, “Dragon Slayer” and “Car Keys,” are presented as discrete songs, but were performed live last year as a single continuous piece, like interlocking units in the same space-age bachelor-pad complex.

That fluidity extends to the band’s treatment of voices, which has typically emphasized the considerable contrast and ping-ponging interplay between Dave “Avey Tare” Portner’s crazed, contorted exhortations and Panda Bear’s beacon-of-light meditations. Time Skiffs presents a more unified front, thanks in large part to the mediating presence of guitarist and keyboardist Josh Dibb, aka Deakin, the wild-card member who’s drifted in and out of the picture over the past 20 years and who typically plays a non-vocal supporting role alongside synth wizard Brian “Geologist” Weitz. But with Lennox living in Portugal and focused on completing Panda Bear’s 2019 release Buoys, Dibb stepped up to play Portner’s foil at those Music Box showcases. Toward the end of the set, Dibb led a chant that eventually got absorbed into Time Skiffs’ majestic lead single, “Prester John,” now a six-minute dubwise odyssey that’s guided through the fog by Dibb and Lennox’s luminous harmonies, before riding into the sun on an uncharacteristically funky drum break that evokes Steven Drozd’s in-the-pocket grooves for the Flaming Lips. Dibb’s Music Box contributions also included an ambient ballad (working title: “DownDownDownDown”) that’s reborn as Time Skiffs’ gorgeous comedown closer “Royal and Desire,” where the group wraps his melancholic melody in loungey exotica that yields the most downright elegant piece of music Animal Collective has ever produced.

As much as Time Skiffs is a celebration of Animal Collective’s finely tuned musical telepathy and brotherly bonhomie, the group is also well aware they’re releasing it into a turbulent world where people need more than always-have-a-good-time platitudes to make it through another day. The eco-conscious ideologies and existential despair embedded in their stopgap Meeting of the Waters and Tangerine Reef projects seep into the lyrics here: While the aforementioned “Car Keys” begins as a game of hot potato between Dibb and Weitz’s wiggiest synth settings and an overexcited vibraphone, it leads to Lennox’s helpless cries of “How are we doing now?” and follows them up with an even more disillusioned query: “How we gonna know?” But in true Animal Collective fashion, the line between anxiety and ecstasy is often smudged: They couch their most dire prognostications in “Strung With Everything,” a carnivalesque Beach Boys reverie that peaks with the sort of call-and-response breakdown you’d hear in a romantic early rock’n’roll single—though, in this case, the view from Lookout Point has gotten a lot bleaker: “Let’s say tonight, you and me,” Portner excitedly sings, “we’ll watch the sky fall into pieces!”

Time Skiffs achieves its most masterful balancing act between the playful and profound in the seven-minute centerpiece “Cherokee,” a song that began popping up in setlists back in 2019 and immediately felt like a new AnCo classic. That title may raise an eyebrow coming from a band that recently made a point of renaming their 2003 album Here Comes the Indian to a less culturally flippant title, but it’s not a stretch to think the two are somehow related, as “Cherokee” speaks to the process of developing a greater conscientiousness toward your behaviors and surroundings. Inspired by drives around Portner’s home turf near Asheville, North Carolina, the song functions as both surrealist personal travelogue and a cogent commentary on the peculiarities of modern American life, which, for him, include being mistaken for a foreigner by a gas-station employee, pondering the fate of empty mailboxes in a world of smartphones, and, yes, riding around in a Jeep-brand vehicle that appropriates the name of the very Indigenous people whose ancestral land he now inhabits.

“I’ve been driving for a long while/Spent some time in a Cherokee/Learning things,” Portner sings, delivering those last two simple words with a humbled sense of awe. For all their wild-eyed abandon, Animal Collective records have always encouraged us to appreciate and savor the most fundamental yet easily neglected aspects of life—friendships, family, nature, history. Two decades into their journey, that commitment to self-improvement, planetary care, and mutual respect remains their animating force. And if this nightmare of a world gets in the way of pursuing those ideals, consider Time Skiffs an invitation to keep living the dream.

Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Animal Collective - Time Skiffs Music Album Reviews Animal Collective - Time Skiffs Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, February 11, 2022 Rating: 5

0 comments:

Post a Comment