Animal Collective getting ‘odd’ Monday

By Garth Brody

Animal Collective has released eight full length albums, four EPs and two live collections. If you don’t know about them by now – well, you should probably know about them by now – but for those of you who aren’t familiar with those shape-shifting experimental musicians from Baltimore, you’re about to have a great chance to get acquainted.

This Monday, April 19, Animal Collective and filmic collaborator Danny Perez are bringing “ODDSAC,” their 54-minute “visual album” to Hampshire College’s Franklin Patterson Hall. They’ll be showing the film twice that night – at 9:15 and 11:15.

If the only thing you’ve heard from Animal Collective is last year’s summer jam “My Girls,” this should be quite an eye-opener. Described in the Sundance Film Festival notes as “a glittering mix of pop rock, experimental noise and horror-movie soundtrack,” Animal Collective’s otherworldly soundscapes are matched by Danny Perez’s “intense scenes of vampires, campfires, and screaming prophets.”

This is exciting news for Animal Collective fans, not only because “vampires, campfires and screaming prophets,” would make a killer band name, but because the prospect of experimental noise and campfires recalls the golden era of Animal Collective. Namely – the “Campfire Songs” era, when instead of Grateful Dead samples and click tracks, they relied on lush natural field recordings and a lot of pedals.

That was back in the first few years after they formed, in 2000; since then, their noisy warmth has gradually given way to pop friendliness. Not that musical evolution is to be discouraged, nor that their pure pop moments are anything but preposterously satisfying – but it will be refreshing to see the band tinkering away again on an intimate, sensory experience.

Danny Perez has collaborated with Animal Collective in the past, once on the 2004 video for “Who Could Win a Rabbit,” and again, earlier this year at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, for the audacious audio-visual installation “Transverse Temporal Gyrus.” The former told the old “tortoise and the hare” fable in a wild bit of musical-visual storytelling reminiscent of Spike Jonze, with an eerie and brutal twist. The latter turned the museum’s central spiral into an ambient sound and light wonderland.

If the 30-second trailer is any indicator, “ODDSAC” should fall somewhere in between – offering both deep-dye projections to emulate pressure phosphenes (what you see when you rub your closed eyes) and frighteningly surreal forest scenes (in one shot, a cloaked figure stumbles around in a clearing, his head aflame). Millennial psychedelia has been waiting for an answer to “The Wall,” and with any luck, we’ll have found it in “ODDSAC.” Generational/generic pretensions aside, it looks like an overwhelming sensory experience – and a timely little trip before finals.

Tickets are on sale today at Hampshire in the Campus Leadership and Activities Office attached to the Dakin House from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. They are $15, and available only to Five College students with a valid Hampshire, Smith, Amherst, Mt. Holyoke or UMass ID.

Garth Brody can be reached at [email protected]