Musical collaborations have given us some gems over the years. Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, Onyx and Biohazard, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, and the Wu-Tang Clan and Texas on…, actually, maybe scratch that last one.
Now Animal Collective have teamed up with avant-garde coral macro video Coral Morphologic for their new album ‘Tangerine Reef’. The album is the first without Panda Bear and is in celebration of International Year of the Reef.
Opening track ‘Hair Cutter’ is four minutes of unobtrusive electronics and billowing synths. As ‘Hair Cutter’ ebbs and flows along, we are swept up in its ambient aquatic journey. As it merges into ‘Buffalo Tomato’ a skittering beat kicks in it feels like we are being propelled out of dock and into the sea. ‘Buxom’ and ‘Coral Understanding’ are dark and lurid explorations into atonal sounds with haunting vocals.
The album’s stand out moment is ‘Airpipe (t o a New Transition)’. This feels like the point where the reef is opened up to us and we understand it and its function. The music is hypnotic, but not cliché psych. Drones and clicks become melodic and the random ebbs form precise, and exquisite, arrangements.
After this the album ebbs and flows, not directionless or going through the motions, but just drifting and seeing where the current takes it, but is feels like meandering, rather than purposeful psych workouts.
Effectively ‘Tangerine Reef’ is one long meditative, tone poem raga. As it pulses and undulates along, motifs and themes make themselves known, slowly drift below the surface, only to re-emerage later, slightly changed, but just as powerful.
This might not be as immediate and catchy as previous Animal Collective releases, possibly due to Panda Bear’s absence, but its one of their most transfixing and beguiling.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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