Monday, January 19, 2009

Animal Collective-Merryweather Post Pavillion

Animal Collective-Merryweather Post Pavillion

A couple of Tuesdays ago we experienced a weird phenomenon; weird not because it has never happened, but weird because it has not happened for such a long time. When we opened at 10:00 a.m. as usual, a rush of excited customers came in. They raced back to the vinyl section and pantingly grabbed the new double vinyl of Animal Collective. The CD was not coming out for a few weeks, and the vinyl came with a download code for the entire album. We sold out of our initial shipment in the first 30 minutes of being open. This has not happened for a vinyl release in years. It took us by surprise, but it really shouldn’t have, with each new release Animal Collective have proven themselves to be on an unpredictable and extremely ambitious artistic path. Their albums have been consistently hard to categorize, yet their fanbase grows by leaps and bounds with each new release. They have traditionally made little to no concessions to commercial viability, and their fame seems to be entirely fan and word-of-mouth driven. They have received some critical notice but it is always far away from the mainstream.
With Merriweather Post Pavilion they seemed poised to take their career to bigger places, although there is no whiff of sell-out.

Starting with the album cover we know we are in for a strange ride. It is one of those optical illusions that through the juxtaposition of shape, color and pattern gives the viewer the impression of movement. So, the record is almost literally crawling out of its sleeve to get at you. It is very cool.

Once the record is playing, the listener is taken on a voyage to beautiful, woozy, uneasy places. Animal Collective use some conventional instruments, but if you are looking for ripping guitar solos or virtuoso instrumental breaks-look elsewhere. The thing they do is create multi-layered clouds of sound. Lots of keyboards, samplers, pedals and electronic effects stack upon each other, teetering on top of lovely melodies and goofily insightful lyrics to create a very singular effect. It is like 100 foot day-glow daisies swaying lazily in the breeze It is almost impossible to listen to this band without becoming emotionally involved in the musicians’ particular state of mind. This is not background music-it is forebrain music. The album also has a kaleidoscopic effect on me as well. That is to say, every time I listen to it, it feels like the first time. It is vaguely familiar, but at the same time there is always a sense of discovery and freshness to it. This is a tall order for any album. To always sound new and interesting. How many records can you say that about these days.

Trying to describe Animal Collective’s music is not so easy. As I listen to them they paradoxically seem to have no antecedent and yet be achingly familiar at the same time. There are wisps of Beach Boys, Olivia Tremor Control, Erik Satie, My Bloody Valentine and every other unlikely, hipster juxtaposition you can think of. Unlike their other albums, however, Merriweather Post Pavilion never veers off into harsh territory. They never lose their ineffable sense of melody and beauty on this album. It is a hypnotic, pleasing experience throughout. As I listen to it I clearly have the sense of listening to something exciting and important, the kind of album that might light the imagination of a new generation of listeners.

For us, one of the most exciting parts is that these consumers actually seem to get the value of holding something physical in your hands. That simple fact that having “something” is inherently different and perhaps better than having “nothing” that costs as much as “something” is not lost on this group of fans.

--Paul Epstein


Anonymous said...

Interestingly , I was in your store the day and it was vacant except for the vinyl...there were like 10 people in the Vinyl section... earlier that day I had a call from my mother to come get these records outof my garage or I'm giving them away.. I called my brother , "mom said I could have your records," I said, the silence was intense , "don't even look at my records"... I guess VInyl is still relevant?

Sebastian said...

Man your appreciation of this album is just what i feel everytime i listen to it, it is so an out-of-earth record, i mean that every time i listen ie. "in the flowers" its like an orgasm, an lcd or something...It just make me happy, i'm addicted to it!.