I hadn’t really formed a complete thought of what a movie co-created by Animal Collective would be like. I guess I would say I had some preconceived notions (lots of strangeness, not much plot, plenty of excitement); Oddsac lived up to those guesses, but added a heap of creepy. That might have something to do with director/friend Danny Perez, whose work on videos for “Who Could Win A Rabbit?” (with its eerily painted, forest-dwelling humanimals) and “Summertime Clothes” (with its swirling abstracts and surreal dancers) was the only logical choice for such a project.
To be frank, this ain’t “Summertime Clothes”. There were many more hints, thematically and structurally, to earlier records Danse Manatee and Campfire Songs than to Merriweather Post Pavilion (though there were plenty of those MPP sub-bass and synth sounds). MPP, compared to both early Animal Collective and this movie, is an easy listen; There are plenty of fun songs, not much tension or chaos (at least not long in the primary place where your attention sticks).
With only one listen/viewing, it’ll be extremely tough to do the music/visuals justice (particularly for a project so rooted in obscuring an easy understanding), but I’ll give it a shot. There were characters played by each of the band members, with accompanying sonic motifs. Panda Bear seemed to be some sort of androgynous wandering drummer; Geologist a howling, sling-bearing warrior; Deakin a sad vampire; But, easily the most intriguing, Avey Tare a manic, red-painted man in a large, white, toga-esque wrapping.
Altogether, the visual aspect of the film had elements of horror and experimental film. I’m no expert, but I was immediately reminded of Un Chien Andalou (with distorted closeups of blood and eyes) and David Lynch (perhaps more in tone and use of distorted identities than of specific images). Maybe even David Cronenberg (there’s plenty of unidentifiable matter flowing).
I suppose picking out moments (both visually and audibly) that have stuck in my mind would be the most fruitful “review.” The film opened with a woman attempting to stop a wall from spewing a black, tarry substance while a deep, pounding drum and humming synths crescendoed into destruction. A while later, acoustic guitar plucks, reverberated wind sounds and a serene Panda Bear-led vocal harmony set the scene as Deakin’s vampire crossed a lake in a canoe. Later, a minor relative of that same set up was accentuated by rhythmic blasts of super-loud feedback as Panda roamed across a field of stones.
One of the downright tensest moments of the film had little to do with music, per se. A person (face obscured) leaned over a creek, washing some sort of organic-looking stones while emitting an anxious, guttural sound in a hectic rhythm. The scene would be obscured by blasts of noise and flashes of some sort of bloody-mouthed monster speaking in a sub-bass voice. The alternations got quicker and quicker, producing an extremely intense, anxious feeling. That wasn’t the only tense moment (oh, no). A family roasting marshmallows begins to realize the marshmallows are bursting back outwards and consuming them, all while the vampire creeps around in the woods and an eerie, “Moo Rah Rah Rain”-esque echoed vocal kicks around quietly.
The lyrics that end the film sounded a lot like “I’m happy” being repeated over and over again. But, considering the visuals, it was a bit of a mixed message. Perez called the final scene a “foodfight” in the post-screening Q&A, but the quick-changing shots, knives and suspicious grins paired with the manic, screaming Avey Tare character were nothing like a foodfight I’d ever seen before.
Once I’ve seen it a good fifteen more times, I’m guessing I’ll have a lot more of substance to say about the film. A few “songs” from the film would be great to listen to on their own, I’d guess, but Geologist (also present for the Q&A) said there won’t be a separate, music-only release. The film, in its mixture of sound and visual is certainly something you react to. It would be impossible, it seems, to see this without having a changed outlook for a while. It’s a supremely unique experience you will not get anywhere else. This kind of music combined with these images don’t get released all that often in congruence. See it.