Animal Collective reached an admirable creative peak with Campfire Songs. After the datapanick urban overload of Danse Masquerade, the band (Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin) decided to strip everything down to the core essence of their sound: feeling the throb of your heartbeat in your thumb, the drunken song of the moon on a chilly winter night. Gone are the electronics, hell, gone is the Geologist, leaving a trio to craft the delicate web of urgent and bucolic acoustic guitar strums, percussion that’s really not, and those childlike, skewed, and pure three-part vocal harmonies.
For the recording of Campfire Songs, Animal Collective settled down on a porch (good lord, this is what I’ve said is one of the ideal places for music to be created and joined in communally) and recorded these songs on mini-disc players in one long continuous take. They allowed their music to freely interact with nature and the place of performance. Insects, birds, even the wind blowing through tree branches all become a silent fourth member. There is a certain, wide-eyed wonder to these performances missing in so much of their later work. Alien through and through.
Sometimes Campfire Songs sounds like they’re just warming up interminably, sometimes it sounds like they’re making it up as they go along, sometimes it sounds like they’re summoning Syd Barrett in a séance of detuned guitars, sometimes it sounds like reverent Quaker hymns, sometimes it sounds like they’ve keyed into the primal core of the high lonesome sound. Alchemy.
Paw Tracks: www.paw-tracks.com