Animal Collective and Danny Perez - ODDSAC

Animal Collective aren’t afraid of testing their audience. Their more devoted fans have endured ten minutes of distortion (Hollinndagain’s ‘I See You Pan’), an album of torrential rain (Campfire Songs), and the chaotic ADHD sound clash of Here Comes The Indian. So when they announced that they’d been working on a visual album collaboration thingy with director Danny Perez, I had my reservations.

The lights went down and the film’s title, ODDSAC, seared through room. What followed was a surprisingly engaging foray into the creative minds of two brilliant artistic parties. There was always a risk that it might be a film with a bit of a soundtrack, like Daft Punk’s Electroma, or an Animal Collective album with some arbitrary visuals. Fortunately, it managed to toss the focus back and forth with moments of narrative, chunks of music video and interludes of indecipherable, but hyper-intelligent Windows Visualizer style patterns.

This project has taken four years to complete, which in Animal Collective terms takes us long before 2009’s ‘album of the year’ grabbing, Merriweather Post Pavillion, to a time when they’d just finished the carnal Feels album and were unknowingly about to take their first steps out of the avant-garde shadows. If ODDSAC is to be thought of as an Animal Collective album then it lies somewhere between the murky land of freak folk and the tribal festival they’ve become, but before they’d moved into the realm of the song. That said, there is an odd tension throughout that it might just burst into ‘What Would I Want? Sky’ from their most recent EP Fall Be Kind.

The film could be linked to the work of a whole host of experimental film-makers: a Matthew Barney style retro-future sequence; a series of Kenneth Anger style demonic kaleidoscopes and a terrific scene in which a family cooking marshmallows induces the same levels of squirming as Salvador Dali’s, Un Chien Andalou. What really stands out though, is how tightly the visuals interact with the music. Nothing is done by accident and even when we are confronted with screensaver visuals and distortion, it becomes apparent that there are actually thousands of people dancing in perfect time to the rips and throbs of the soundtrack.

Animal Collective and Danny Perez have certainly achieved something sometimes brilliant, but there is the niggling doubt as to whether it'll bear up to repeat viewings. There will be further explorations no doubt, but afterwards? The potential for a bit of dust gathering.



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