From a distance, it appears possible to draw a line from 2004’s Sung Tongs to 2009′s Merriweather Post Pavilion as Animal Collective became more and more broadly palatable, emerging from the murky wilds of their diverse early records to become a hugely influential band, accidental touchstones to the Pitchfork generation. Whereas Merriweather was the summation of the process, AC’s subsequent projects ODDSAC, Transverse Temporal Gyrus and now Centipede Hertz have been exercises in what to do after you’ve been to the top of your own mountain. That’s not to say that Centipede Hertz is any lesser or less worthwhile than other records from their catalogue, but the sense of serendipity of the little avant-garde band that could impinging on the public consciousness (to an extent) is gone.
Centipede Hertz is their first record made as four-piece since Strawberry Jam and aesthetically, it’s possible to link the two records. Each is crammed, chaotic and abrasive to an extent with sweet, sticky pop juices sheltered within a chitinous sheath. Throughout, the album is maximilist to the point of confusion. No space is left unfilled, no sound left unfiltered, the chaos of Tomorrow Never Knows writ large and digital. Given the tumult at surface level, it’s no surprise that CH takes a good bit of repeated listening to unfold for the listener.
There’s nothing as immediate as My Girls or Brothersport or Fireworks but over time melodies seep into the brain, in particular Panda Bear’s all-too-brief Rosie Oh and Avey Tare’s sweet-as-advertised Applesauce. The second half is more testing, packed with lengthier jams of the kind of music I imagine characters in video games hear when they’re cutting through digital forests and jumping from moving platforms over 8-bit lava. Ultimately Centipede Hertz is hectic and involving without ever being as moving as its immediate predecessor.
Centipede Hertz is released on Friday 31st August on Domino Records. Keep an eye out for a full-length feature interview with Animal Collective in September issue of Totally Dublin.