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Animal Collective : Centipede Hz

On Sunday night, Animal Collective will broadcast the fourth and final installment of their Centipede Radio series, culminating in a full album stream of their forthcoming tenth long-player Centipede Hz. For many this is the most anticipated record of 2012, and having been lucky enough to grab an advance listen I am pleased to report it does not disappoint. Coming from a band who have never done anything in a particularly linear fashion, it’s no real surprise that this album bears little resemblance to its relatively poppy immediate predecessors, Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavillion; whilst it shares a producer (Ben Allen) and a largely electronic sound palette with the latter, the song structures are more complex and the time signatures trickier, placing it closer to psychedelic prog-rock than the anthemic indie-folk or synthetic dance music of their most recent releases. But if that all sounds a bit too Mars Volta, don’t worry: from the opening seconds of childhood road-trip flashback “Moonjock” (sample lyric: “In our covered wagon times when dad he had his captain eyes/ We’d get the steel horse moving on the straights and lines of 95/ And mom she was our singer and we kept alive on greasy fries/ I held onto my stash of jams that ran along in Michelin time”), we’re hit with a busy mix of samples, FX, keyboards, beats, digitally-edited live Panda Bear drums and – of course – those ever-present ecstatic group vocals that will leave you dizzy and grinning as if you had just disembarked from a rollercoaster. You’ve already heard the kaleidoscopic “Today’s Supernatural” (below), with its video-game power-up sound FX and hoarse-throated Avey Tare outbursts (“You’ll find something you believe that you should do/ And sometimes it won’t come so easy/ But sometimes you gotta go get mad”), but don’t be fooled into thinking its rough-edged textures are representative of the album as a whole. The album’s only constant, unifying theme is its density: samples are buried under samples, beats piled on top of beats, every sound and rhythm competing for your attention with a hundred others. Returning member Deakin’s guitar comes briefly to the forefront of the tropical “Rosie Oh” before being drowned under waves of percussion and sonar bleeps; “Applesauce” twists and turns with crashing drums and zig-zagging synth arpeggios, whilst “Wide Eyed” sets a raga-like Eastern melody and acid-fried spiritualist lyrics (“What’s the change for the better/ For a child who learns not to cry/ And to the boy who relies on his anger/ You’ll survive but you won’t feel exchange”) to dubby FX and chattering sampled tablas. “Father Time” eases off the throttle a little and “New Town Burnout” – its stuttering, crackling electronic pulse and Beach Boys harmonies sounding like a hybrid of MPP‘s “Daily Routine” and “Bluish” – maintains the more relaxed pace before segueing into the bass-heavy and relentlessly rhythmic “Monkey Riches”, possibly the group’s most obvious homage to the techno and African music that has long been a fixture of the various members’ playlists and DJ sets. “Mercury Man”, perhaps the album’s most straightforward pop song, then signals the descent back to Earth, with the shuffling “Pulleys” (“Tunnels and caves are magnificent places to escape/ You’ll go/ Tunnels and caves/ We’re here to help you are you feeling low?”) and “Amanita” (“I’m going hiking/ Are you coming hiking?”) gradually slowing to a near-stop before erupting into a brief, rapturous tribal dance finale. Centipede Hz is so full of expertly executed ideas running into each other that you would stop to marvel if only they would allow you a moment’s pause, and whilst it’s unlikely to inspire the same kind of emotional attachments as Strawberry Jam or MPP – lacking as it does anything as immediately accessible as “Peacebone“, “Fireworks” or “My Girls” – those of you for whom such outdated concepts actually matter can rest assured: melody is still an important factor, and Centipede is packed with hooks that will stomp their way into your subconscious with each one of their hundred feet. Simultaneously timeless and futuristic, it also includes, in one form or another, everything that the quartet have ever poured into their music – campfire folk, extreme noise, experimental psychedelia, rhythmic rave-ups – making this pretty much the quintessential Animal Collective album. Until the next one at least…

Centipede Hz is out September 3 via Domino Recording Co. and will be streaming from 9PM EST on Sunday August 19 on Centipede Radio

Animal Collective – Today’s Supernatural from Arts & Crafts México on Vimeo.

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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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