paws and claws…

Animal Collective are a rare unit. Avey Tare, Deaken, Geologist, and Panda Bear summon surreal spirits from wood and metal instruments. Together they craft unpredictable, mysterious gems. It’s best to rush into their world and enjoy each explosive sound and soft whisper. So here we go. Let’s throw open the gate and dive into Animal Collective’s hallucinatory world.

Campfire Songs

It’s dark and the air is heavy. Each breath draws the fragrant night into your body. Tree limbs drip leaves on the forest floor and creak with each breeze. A carpet of dry pine needles and popping twigs celebrate every step. We wind our way past willows whispering and crickets chirping time. Walking, hopping, and shuffling through darkness broken only by lucky moonbeams. We cross a creek rock by rock and on the next wind catch the aroma of burning alder wood accompanied by faint guitar. We follow these midnight stimulants to the edge of a clearing where a cabin is nestled in tall grass. Shadowy shapes surround it. As we drift closer the figures become clear. Woodland creatures circle a sparkling campfire. A grizzly sits on the wooden porch rocking gently, raccoons line the rooftop, a badger is clapping its tail on the front steps, a deer stokes the fire with its antlers, and three rabbits are curled near the glowing embers. They all hypnotically vibrate to the soft music which appears to be rising from the fire. As flames lick higher the music swells. Cinder crescendos disappear into stars. Smoke carries ghostly guitar chords that tickle skin as they swirl away. The sparks are singing red, orange, and blue. Soon we are singing too and this is a dream is a dream is a dream.

Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished & Danse Manatee

Seagulls swoop down to grab the remains of your lunch as you inhale, exhale ahhhhhhhhhhh. These last breaths of salty air are deep. You smell the sea and soon you will be in it. You nervously check your watch and wipe beaded sweat from your forehead. This hundredth submersion makes you anxious as the first. You love to go below but can’t wait to get back up. These thoughts disappear as you tie your boot and climb down the ladder. Once you’re snug they seal you in. As the hatch closes buoys stop ringing and the air smells recycled. With a click, pssssssst, and a whir your submarine glides off and down. You flip on the radio as light rays ripple and disappear. Soon it’s night in the daytime and all the fish must be owls because they’re out on the town. Your good ship lollipop is equipped with a highly sensitive aquatic microphone and surround sound speakers start speaking sea talk to you. A glowing cloud appears on the starboard side. It’s a fluorescent school of singing seahorses whinnying warbled melodies. Their song meshes with the ever-present squeal of your rotor and electronic cockpit blips. You smile and pass above crabs tapping out patterns on sunken shells. Their drum solos send bubbles blib blib blib blob pop pop pop past your cockpit. An electric eel slithers through corral with a shocking buzz. You continue diving deeper slipping past a pirate ship’s mast when you hear something strange. It sounds like an underwater waltz. On any other day you wouldn’t wave an eyelash. Manta Birostris aka Mr. or Mrs. Manta Ray often creates such mesmerizing music, but this is different. You hear crackling grooves and the steady whir of a motor. You nudge the volume up, turn off the high beams, and float yonder. All is aglow and the music is bright. You spot an ancient Victrola perched on a giant clam. It chugs out the sounds of an ethereal orchestra as two chubby phantoms cut a rug. You wipe the window and then your eyes. It’s still for real. Two manatee ghosts are locked in romantic embrace, spinning peacefully on the seafloor. Though flounder, plankton, and pike float all around, the manatees feel only one another. Their fragile ballad is adrift in a cacophony of rushing currents. Your head sways with the grandeur of it all. You check the air pressure gauge. It’s empty, you die, and go to heaven.

Here Comes the Indian

The Indian is proud of his shoes. He wears them everyday. He’s a tough dude. His pants are lined with magic rattlesnake skin and he eats nothing but raw meat and fire. You could say he cooks his food internally. The Indian never had a mother of father he just kind of showed up one day. He doesn’t talk much and you shouldn’t stare at him, especially his shoes. They’re said to be magic. Evidence of this can be witnessed in his confident saunter. He’ll walk over any surface: bones, hot coals, banana peels. Nothing slips up his stroll. Sometimes at night he floats upside down over cities suspended by his shoes. This is how he met the Evil Eagle. Now, the Indian is a no nonsense character but Evil Eagle aka Double E is absolutely intense. His talons are sharpened to a deadly point and he shoots razor edged feathers from his plumage. Plus he’s a down and dirty cussy mouth. One day the Indian was floating above Detroit minding his own biz when all of a sudden some freak tried to grab his sneaks. Nobody but nobody touches the Indian’s shoes. He peered into the sky above his inverted body and saw that rascal EE. Well bam bam! He flipped around and scissor kicked the bald head bugger in the beak. Shazam! There was a mighty flash of light and *bang* Evil Eagle was flipped into another dimension. All around his birdie body sinister lightning flashed crack * crack * crack. Shrieks and moans filled the air and Evil felt his brain bursting. The intensity of it all settled and rose like a tidal wave of crashing piano chords. His talons shattered as each feather started to sizzle and burn. Mr. Eagle sensed the end was near but no dice. He was eternally trapped in an agonizing limbo. Back on Earth everything was cool with the Indian. He had set that chump straight and went about his day. So remember, if you ever run across our main man the Indian, don’t screw with his shoes.

Sung Tongs

When I was a wee lad I went to a barbecue smack dab in the middle of summer. I wore mismatched tube socks, one striped red, the other purple and yellow. I didn’t give a hoot because these were the carefree days of my youth. I had energy and the imagination to match. The bbq was at my cousin Peter’s. As soon as our station wagon pulled up to the peeling, white and green house my brothers and I jumped out of the car like it was on fire. We hopped the fence and zipped straight to the backyard. We were in search of adventure under a blazing Sun. We found it in tree branches, sprinklers, matches, and dirt clods. Cousin Pete was a pretty boss dude. He was fifteen with a BMX and faint moustache. As the day faded Pete and three buds gathered in the garage with acoustic guitars, walkie talkies, and a dented amplifier. They strummed and strummed and strummed and strummed. It sounded chaotic but soon the curious chords circled together to make sense. The teenagers sang like pirates on a rampage. Perfectly confident with puffed chests and cracking voices. They whispered into squawking walkie talkies then yelped while jumping on one foot. A blue, electric bug zapper crackled along. Their energetic improvisations washed over our ears like the Pied Piper’s song, drawing more and more youngsters to the open garage. We all clapped and shouted in anarchic unison. If we had kept it up I’m sure we could have launched a revolution. Under a banner of grass stained knees and scabby elbows the world would have been ours.

Wow that was quite an adventure! What does it all mean? Take a listen to these Animal Collective albums and dream up your own scene.

Campfire Songs
catsupplate.com

Here Comes the Indian
paw-tracks.com

Sung Tongs
Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished/Danse Manatee
fat-cat.co.uk

– frosty

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