Since 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective has been all over the place. They’ve composed a soundtrack for a movie, designed shoes for adults and children, and two of the members have split off to make solo material. Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) is still working on his album Tomboy, and Avey Tare (aka Dave Portner) is releasing his first true solo album entitled Down There next week.
While previous solo work by Portner involved his wife Kría Brekkan, Down There is all straight from the mind of Avey Tare himself. Supposedly inspired by crocodiles, swamps, and other things of that murky nature, Down There is saturated with wobbly instruments, watery percussion, and vocals saturated in reverb. The tracks never feel rushed, they develop methodically with layers and loops swooping in and out like algae-covered waves in the Everglades. Album standout “Oliver Twist” opens with a haunting monologue and a trunk rattling kick drum beat. Once the locust-infested intermission ends, the beat picks up with a kick-clap groove and Avey pitches his vocals up and down while singing “…and if I had some kind of need maybe the thing I need is the thing I’ve got/and if I look inside of me I’ll find the thing that gets me to the bottom.”
Most of the album is seamless, with each track melting into the other, segued by underwater speeches given by random people. Listening closely, you hear lines at the beginning of songs like “You see blood and bone, pump and flow, and a million mess–” cutting off mid-sentence. In “Cemeteries,” you can hear a low-pitched conversation being whispered through the warbling piano: “Jud, what’s that?” “Shhh… just a loon, that’s all.”
What results off all of this creepiness is a fantastic album for autumn. If you can sit through this absolutely terrifying interview, Avey Tare gives a little more insight into the inspiration for this album, including his recent split with his wife. If you can’t watch that without getting nauseous, it’s okay. Down There is a perfectly acceptable album to dive head first into, headphones are highly recommended.
Down There is being released next week, and you can check it out in the preview rack now.