Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The death and possible rebirth of pop: Animal Collective in hip London times.

I can't think how music actually exists these days. None of it makes sense. I think the time is right for bailing out. I don't actually understand it anymore. It's beyond me. I tried getting a handle on it and then it kind of fell away. There's too much out there - it just rings and sings and buzzes and fuzzes and i don't get it anymore. I don't know where to start listening and hearing - i don't know what I like anymore. You can stream this and that - you can start here and here and end up there - you can't settle for long enough to just listen. 

And then you can't write because some fucker is putting it up with samples and soundscapes - podcasts and v-logs - I haven't time for all of that

I just wanted to write, about bands that moved me - but it isn't enough - in a stream of making this pay for that and that 

I ended up at The Troxy this week ( or last week) I was there to see Animal Collective - I'm a fan of Panda Bear really - but fell in love with the electronic analogue hub and rub of the collective along the way. I wasn't a fan way back then - but i am now - post post merriweather and all that. 

So i arrived - all excited - Painting with being one of the best things I've heard this year - in a while to be honest (bar anything related to Euros Childs - because - well he's kind of it really - absolutely guaranteed to affect and effect in this house) The Animal Collective animal truly is a work of wonder and fun - all switched harmony and playfulness - pop and psychedelic in the truest form. 

So I arrive - rushed and unkempt - late afternoon meetings about this and that rolling still in my mind - grab (my coat - grab my hat) a sausage roll from Sainsburys - i live off pork - animal selective maaaaaaaan.  Eventually getting to the change of venue - pack them all in on one night only (the Bush was closed) and made my way upstairs - unrestricted - but difficult to hold down a seat when you're on your own - which is pretty much the case these days in rock venues - in any venue really - i don't talk much - it all comes out on here - in here - another beer? 

Which brings me to this. 

A band from the stable of PC Music - the pin up star or some such shit GTOFY - opening - supporting - or ruining the night before the collective came and semi- saved the idea that music is something to fucking care about.  You see - I don't fucking get it anymore - this Verrucae Salt on crack routine - this Aqua meets the Chipmunks thing - this being taken the piss out of thing. This is not cutting edge - ironic - we can say racist things and just laugh it off - this is the fuckers who Jarvis fucking warned us about now making music. They don't even pretend to mix with the common people. Cameron's fucking daughters - this isn't some fucker with dreads dabbling in reggae - this is cunts with trust funds making a mockery of all that came before - they are despised - not misunderstood - absolutely despised - and when Avey Tare gave it the big shout out - part of me couldn't really give a fuck anymore. 

I have gone beyond my limits. I have had enough. 

But to do justice to the beauty of Animal Collective - I will write this down. I know I'll write again - but it's kind of an audience of one. To be honest if it's today's pop pickers reading this - they wouldn't get past the first paragraph - they'd want this post as an Instagram pic with filters or some such shit. 

But for now I'll try and recall the beauty and wonder of Animal Collective - an inventive and resourceful band of lysergic experimenters and adventurers. Arriving to greets and whoops Animal Collective settled behind banks of electronic cables and dials and faders and keys - alongside a drummer too - he was a little higher up beating majestic time and rhythm to the sonic tinkering down below - Panda Bear on the left (audience wise) Avey on the right and Geologist right in the middle - headlight on and easily spotted. 

Opening with Natural Selection their set slowly grew into a shimmering bleep and harmony monster - controlled and indulgent but appropriate and exciting all rolled into one. At first I wasn't sure how the building was holding up to the sound theatrics - whether the vocals were drowning the melody but slowly and surely they started to meld into one organic thumping beast of a pure pop experience - an animal in itself. Blending skillful harmonic interplay with machines - a soul driven electronic pop workshop - pushing musicality and redefining the pop experience. The majority of the set was drawn from 'Painting with' - a long player that has caused some fuss online in comment sections under videos - I think it's absolutely sublime - well realised - less prog noodles and over introspection. It's a new pop statement for a time when pop has pretty much died ( Christ- I witnessed that in the choice of support - i know I should get over it - but I think i'm scarred)  

As they drop Golden Gal - I'm twitching and a rocking in my seat ( I was high up - it happens at my age) - a song with a sonic thump and squelch - radiating through the wonderful setting of The Troxy - coupled with a set of carved faces and projections and pulsing lights - it's clear that Animal Collective want you to have an experience. And if truth be a told an experience was had - so different to their recordings as songs emerge and sounds becoming melodies and voices begin to rise and rasp over this sampled electronic back beat (and boy do they use it) 

And out of this futurism emerges a nod to the past - Jimmy Mack - all covered in reverb and rhythm as Avey sends out a melancholic message of loss - of hope that maybe Jimmy might come back.  There are nods to the past elsewhere as well - older tracks from Feels and Post Merriweather Pavilion sit comfortably in this pure electronic handling of all material - this band has no guitars - they are not needed now. 

Perhaps they never were. 

It's interesting how all this looks - Geologists nodding - Avey whooping and being lost in the moment  ( kind of like a possessed music teacher) and the Panda Bear holding his mic - in what seems like a nervous disposition until his voice soars and swoops in (endless) harmony with Tare's deeper tones.  I know you're not meant to mention the Beach Boys - but that's why I rate them - they push the relationship with music and voice and that in my opinion this deserves to be discussed in the realms of a post Beach Boys age.  It really is The Orb meets Wilson 20,000 leagues up in the sky. Repetitive melody and heartbreaking harmony. I love it and it nearly restored my belief in the power of sound to change the world.  Nearly. 

And then after The Burglars - they are gone. There's been lots of wonder and awe on between. But for now they leave the stage. Not for long. Lights kick in - they assemble in that slacker Kraftwerk manner and offer us Daily Routine into Alvin Row ( a song from years and years ago) updated for the masses - who respond with rapture and cheer. 

Finally - the beat begins to kick in and those Floridada sounds emerge - a song so instantly catchy that as I depart the crowds are simply humming and singing - unknowingly - unwittingly - because it just lodges in the brain and whirls around and around. 

It's a fitting end to the evening - the song captures the sonic thrill of this collective mining of pop - it's irresistible - filled with hooks - veers into psychedelia and still remains of the past, present and future. 

Which is pretty much what Animal Collective do. 

They are all past, present and future. They are not ironic. They don't preach or try to challenge preconceptions - they make music. 

They make music with heart and soul.

They are a wonderful band to have in these dark times. 

Here is a great performance from 6music - it will get right inside your brains.