Animal Collective: Centipede Hz (Domino) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Animal Collective

Centipede Hz

Domino

Sep 04, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue Bookmark and Share


When Animal Collective emerged from the now long-passed freak-folk scene of the early ’00s, they cultivated a certain idiosyncratic milieu that differentiated them from their peers, assuming enigmatic names like Deakin (Josh Dibb), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Geologist (Brian Ross Weitz), and Avey Tare (Dave Portner). They worked at record stores, hand made their CDs, and put on esoteric live shows akin to Harmony Korine art experiments. 

The band evolved, which has always been their ultimate imperative, and albums such as 2004’s Sung Tongs and 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion were seminal works of the past decade, fixtures on virtually every Best of the ’00s list. 

The follow-up to Merriweather, Centipede Hz, is something of a visceral, dark yin to Merriweather’s lithe, DayGlo yang, with martial drumming, more conventionally structured melodies, and the feeling that the band had the time of their lives bashing out these tunes in their practice space.

Opener “Moonjock” kicks off with what sounds like a detuned radio frequency, before segueing into an absolutely brilliant, Residents-via-Mercury Rev scorcher, where Portner urges, “By Georgia I’m hypnotized/I’m tuning into radio,” as if he’s only content when he’s tapping into some warped alien frequency.

The buzz saw, vertiginous “Today’s Supernatural” makes for one hell of an opening one-two salvo alongside “Moonjock,” as it kicks into overdrive over a Queen-esque fuzz guitar crunch, as Portner sings, “Our home is bigger than a mountain view/Sometimes it won’t come so easily/Sometimes you’ve gotta go mad,” dwelling on the conundrum of fame in a manner recalling the bereft dementia of Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs.

The frequent allusions to home and the attendant deterioration of relationships over the course of time and distance throughout Centipede Hz echo the traditional American blues number “This World is Not My Home.” The album, similar to the track, ruminates on entropy and temporality, but finds cold comfort in the ephemeral. 

This sentiment is best captured on the maudlin “Father Time,” as a pulsating heartbeat rhythmic syncopation and a silvery keyboard line vaguely redolent of Talking Heads’ “Blind” guides Portner like a compass with a magnet placed over it, as he laments ambivalently, “Love it’s not real/Or it’s not real/Maybe it’s always real.” The line illustrates the overarching confusion that pervades the superb Centipede Hz, a magical album that takes the listener on a wondrous journey into a party where love is found, lost, and ultimately sublimated into an unsurpassable catharsis. (www.animalcollective.org)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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Hash
October 17th 2012
4:07am

The concluding sentence here seems a bit less relevant when you realise the lyric is “Luck, it’s not real, oh it’s real, no it’s not real, maybe it’s only real when lightning landed and hit you right where you were standing…”

Not really anything to do with love at all.

John Everhart
October 19th 2012
12:39pm

Hash, thanks for pointing that out. I didn’t have lyrics when I reviewed this, and that’s how I heard it. That said, Avey Tare enjoys when listeners mishear his lyrics. He told me that he sings “Monkey Riches” differently every time they play it. And it’s my interpretation of the album, and I stick by it, despite the lyric being different. It’s not a fact based thing for me. It’s a feeling.