Sunday night, we were offered a very unique experience at the culmination of the weekly Animal Collective Radio broadcast supporting their latest LP Centipede Hz. The four members have each been taking turns curating a radio show, inviting guests like Atlas Sound and Black Dice to share mixes and remixes, premiering songs, all whetting the palate for the final show where AnCo would stream their album in full.
But before that, AnCo member Geologist shared an hour-long mix the he created:
“My show is actually a version of a mix I made for Ben Allen (Centipede Hz Producer) before we went into the studio. He asked us for a list of songs that we might reference in terms of sound and vibe so he could understand how we wanted the album to sound. We put together a list of songs that either encompassed the overall sound and vibe, or just had specific things we liked, such as drums sounds, or vocal effects. Rather than just send him each song, I thought it’d be fun to make transitions in between each track and sequence it out into 4 separate continuous hypothetical LP sides, which is what we were thinking for the sequencing of our album. For the final show of AC Radio we thought it’d be cool to play this inspirational mix and the album back to back.”
There’s a real sweet spot in conversations about music — a sliding zone somewhere between the context of an album and how an album makes you feel. Throughout AnCo’s storied career evolution, most of my conversations have been what their songs evoke rather than trying to articulate their musical taxonomic rank. Geologist’s mix slides the sweet spot more towards the middle giving not just Centipede Hz some classification and relation to the world music, but now the whole of Animal Collective’s work seems to have a greater context.
It helps connect the dots to their avant garde sound and root their music in various decades and worldly locations, from obscure Japan psych-rock to Turkish political folk, to Peruvian Chicha music, all the way to more common signposts such as Pink Floyd and Portishead. I am admittedly really bad at dealing with the statement ”I don’t get this band” — my response is usually something like, “Just die already” — but if you’ve ever heard someone say that Animal Collective is something they just don’t get, here’s some background on all songs Geologist played on the mix, and where they might tie in to Centipede Hz.
You can stream Geologist’s mix below, or take a listen to it in a separate window at Mixcloud.
-Jeremy D. Larson
(Note: We decided to omit all of the transitions between the songs, which while just as important to the full songs played on the mix, would warrant their own feature altogether focusing on avant noise, library music, and modern classical. Let’s go with three key artists to definitely check out: The Focus Group, Tim Hodgkinson, and Christian Marclay).
Pink Floyd – “Astronomy Domine”
What: Preeminent Syd Barret tune off Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut album Piper At The Gates of Dawn. You guys got this, and if by chance you don’t, go here and get learned.
Can Be Heard On: The stuttered drone and starship effects of “Today’s Supernatural”. Plus, those little squelches of guitar here sound so much like Avey’s yelps.
Schizo – “Schizo & The Little Girl”
What: Schizo was a short-lived French pysch rock act from the ’70s who released only a couple 7″s on their own record label, SFP (Société Française de Productions Phonographiques) before gutiarist Richard Pinhas formed the slightly more notable electronic rock band Heldon. It’s like Lemmy-era Hawkwind — so it’s awesome.
Can Be Heard On: Most of that deep, distorted synth on the album takes some cues from that guitar sound, like in the beginning of “Moonjock”, or on “Applesauce”.
Los Hijos Del Sol – “Linda Muñequita”
What: Los Hijos del Sol play Chichamusic, a Peruvian brand of psych popular in the late ’70s that combines the Columbian Cumbiawith more surf-psych/garage/reggae influences. Chicha, which is named after kind of corn-based liquor popular in the Incas, sought to bring music to the working class and urban people of Peru. “Linda Muñequita” is a more traditional song borrowing from Cuban or Tropicália tones, but it’s still got that great reverb guitar sound and tremolo picking.
Can Be Heard On: The upstroke, 2 and 4 beat of “Oh Rosie”, the dense percussion on most of the album, and Panda Bear’s vocal harmonies can sometimes mirror Los Hijos del Sol’s vocal harmonies.
We The People – “In The Past”
What: Orlando garage band from the ’60s, one of the countless under-the-radar bands from this era who wrote fantastic songs that mostly no one heard. We The People have more brit-pop and Dick Dale in them than Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, but “In The Past” features one hell of a guitar riff.
Can Be Heard On: That little guitar on “Amanita”. Most of the vocals on the album. They’re all in the front of the mix, and never layered or affected too much. You could argue that the energy of ’60s garage rock is behind “Moonjack”, too.
Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges – “Cravo E Canela”
What: In 1972, Brazilian singer/guitarist Milton Nascimento and singer/composer Lô Borges released a collaborative album called Clube da Esquina(in English, “The Corner Club”). At the time, the double LP fell into the Musica Popular Brasileira (MPB) movement, but still arched across into The Beatles songwriting and prog compositions.
Can Be Heard On: Any song that has that pushing, four-to-the-floor vibe, it’s this rhythm. You can really hear it on “Honeycomb”, but the root of their percussion is always based in this beat.
Lula Côrtes e Ze Ramalho – “Mas Paredas Da Pedra Encantada”
What: The lost but not forgotten Brazilian psych group released a double album in 1974, Paêbirú. “Mas Paredas Da Pedra Encantada” is a psych-fried burner. That organ sound in the beginning is on fire, and that, combined with the off-beat, inverted krautrock bass line work in opposition to the on-the-beat rhythms. It would sound like Can if it didn’t sound like post-punk so much.
Can Be Heard On: The unhinged “Monkey Riches”, and the unhinged Avey Tare.
Eddie & Ernie – “Falling Tears (Indian Drums)”
What: These guys. A 1967 cut from a little-known soul duo from the not-quite-soul-mecca of Phoenix, AZ. Those harmonies at the end are spectacular. These two certainly weren’t afraid of spicing up the instrumentation, adding flaring tom rolls and epic horn stabs.
Can Be Heard On: Well, nothing really all that overt on the album, but the vibe of ”New Town Burnout” has this sort of sad soul feel to it.
Gandalf – “Hang on To A Dream”
What: Boilerplate psych rock or no, the mix is kind of a swatch-book for Centipede Hz, so there’s something about this song that finds its way onto the record. Plus, the fantasy-inspired band name surely sits well with surrealists capable of something like Oddsac.
Can Be Heard On: The eerie, dopplering high-end guitar that runs throughout the first half of the track is one of those subtle background mood-makers that litter tracks like “Mercury Man”.
Catherine Ribiero + Alpes ”Jusqu’a Ce Que La Force De T’Aimer Me Manque”
What: Off their 1972 album Paix, Catherine Ribiero + Alpes started progressing from traditional Folk to something much more avant garde. The track on the mix, ”Jusqu’a Ce Que La Force De T’Aimer Me Manque”, is a more traditional folk ballad via Grace Slick, but the real freakout appears on the title track, a 15-minute odyssey. Think “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” arrested a French Patti Smith.
Can Be Heard On: The melody of ”Jusqu’a Ce Que La Force De T’Aimer Me Manque” underscores “New Town Dropout”, and recalls a lot of melodies and arrangements Panda Bear’s Tomboy, to boot.
Silver Apples – “Misty Mountain”
What: The Proto-psych rockers from NYC released their first self-titled album in 1968. Mostly under the direction of Simeon — who played an eponymous synth/oscillator instrument that seems really complicated and requires you to play it with your knees among other things — the Apples are probably the most direct connection to Animal Collective’s sound. What sounded totally alien in the late ’60s is the skeleton for Animal Collective .
Can be heard on: “Applesauce” and “Monkey Riches” have the same force of “Misty Mountain”, but really, only half a century later, and AnCo still use Silver Apples as a blueprint.
Ersen – “Kozan Dagi”
What: This guy. Ersen ve Dadaslar was a famous Turkish singer in the 70′s. He now looks like this, and from what I can tell, remade the original version of “Kozan Dagi” recently. These are the results of that.
Definitely heard on: Avey Tare’s vocal idiosyncrasies and inflections remind me of Ersen’s, especially on “Father Time”. This is certainly more of a drone vibe though, that kind of no-silence, no-space approach AnCo has been working with for the last couple of albums.
Dorthy Ashby – “Soul Vibrations”
What: The detroit jazz harp pioneer channels some spacy territory, but it’s always rooted in serious technical chops. The cinematic funk grooves on Afro-Harping set the stage for gliding solos. Along with Alice Coltrane, Ashby stood as a strong female in a jazz scene that didn’t know it was begging for harp.
Can Be Heard On: The swank, worldly rhythms of “Pulleys” have some of that otherworldly bop.
Selda – “Yaz Gazeteci Yaz”
What: Turkish singer Selda released hers/t debut, the Anadolu folk and psych-rock record Selda in 1976 to much praise and political repression. She was imprisoned in the ’80s for her music. You might be able to recognize this song from several samples, ranging from Mos Def to 2manyDJs.
Can Be Heard On: The cheesy funk filter may be turned to 11 for Selda, but AnCo is definitely using some of the same phasing effects on their vocals. Plus, the push-pull rhythm sticks out on many Centipede Hz tracks.
Portishead – “Plastic”
What: Probably the best known act on this list, the slow-burning electro-noir on “Plastic” is dramatic. The trio experiment with noise and silence, delivering fluttering synth bursts and empty space in heavy doses.
Can Be Heard On: It’s probably not Beth Gibbons vocals, but that off-tempo helicopter percussion underneathing is signature aqueous AnCo percussion.
Apryl Fool – “The Lost Mother Land Part 1″
What: And now we’re in Japan in 1969 with this bizarre track that really feels like it’s being played at the wrong speed. Apryl Fool, a short-lived quintet led by Hiro Yaganida, melted all the ice cream with this one. The sheer commitment to that vocal style and that tri-tone dissonant thing that keeps happening makes this track stand out.
Can Be Heard On: Those insanely effected vocals sound like someone tried to make a vocoder out of a vacuum and half of a walkie talkie, and Animal Collective are never afraid of messing with the human voice.
Los Holy’s – “The High Chapparal”
What: Peruvian rock that seems to take surf instrumentation and come out with Western TV themes. The galloping drum work is matched by an organ that sounds like it was taken out of a grandmother’s sitting room. These matching dudes also covered the Hawaii Five-O theme, so hit up YouTube for that.
Can Be Heard On: Umm…Animal Collective’s rhythms do tend to rollick. Maybe that’s it?
13th Floor Elevators – “Kingdom of Heaven”
What: Roky Erikson’s first group formed in Austin, Texas, and their brand of LSD-soaked wobbliness embraced whatever weird sounds they could manage. Founding member Tommy Hall often employed a microphone clipped to an old-fashioned jug for eerie warps. The sway-along rhythm here gets cut by Erickson’s trippy vocal moans and a wicked howl.
Can Be Heard On: The pulsating waves of “Wide Eyed” has that sway, and Deakin’s low, slow delivery has some of Erikson’s deliberation.