The release of Animal Collective’s visual album ‘ODDSAC’ this week has given reviewers the breadth and length of these isles a chance to exercise their already VDU-atrophied eyes. Not just a film with soundtrack, watching it as a DVD is the only way you can hear the new music that laces the bewitching and baffling scenes.
According to Panda Bear, ‘ODDSAC’ is meant to be an approximation by the band and filmmaker Danny Perez of what you might see if you closed your eyes while listening to Animal Collective’s music.
This led to musings in NME Towers as to what visions other bands might inspire (“Salem – the Time Team blokes being dispatched into your brain to excavate every bit of ‘orribleness that ever passed through it”; “New MIA album = The BBC Test Card”; “Mumford And Sons – that scene in Deliverance”).
As to ‘ODDSAC’ itself, though, our own Sam Richards finds the results bewitching if sometimes confusing, opining “There are times when ODDSAC is pretty silly – you half expect Old Gregg to rise out of a lake and flash you his mangina – and times when its sheer sensory overload makes you feel a bit sick”.
Styling out the vom-urges, Rob Young, for Uncut, is impressed with Perez’s visualisation of the AC sound, enthusing: “Oddsac is lodged at the point where America’s mythical frontier landscape becomes the inscape, peopled with phantasms, horrors, fears and savage urges”.
Some urges, though, Mr Young is less happy with; unlike Sam, he doesn’t approve of the closing scenes of “a girlie food fight in a remote cabin overseen by a dude in a hand-sewn bug monster mask,” judging it ‘slightly too slapstick’. Carry On Animal Collective; there’s something we’d like to see.
Dan Stubbs for Q describes ‘ODDSAC’ as “something like surfing YouTube with David Lynch – a compelling and oddly unsettling experience”. Aptly enough, for the band are to be part of the judging panel for the Guggenheim museum’s YouTube Play project, in which they’ll be creaming off the best of forward-thinking online video from the website.
Danny Eccleston in MOJO, meanwhile, while doling out four stars, is still happier with the scenes in his own head – he’s a fan of the forest food fight, but still “can’t help but feeling that the most potent visions will arrive when you close your eyes and let this unique music take its own path through your lobes”.
Alexis Petridis, for the Guardian, finds it harder to enthuse, begrudgingly offering “if your idea of a great evening in involves watching someone in a long blonde wig and flared trousers slowly assemble a drumkit while a bearded man in velvet robes waves a lasso and shouts at him, get your credit card out: your audio-visual experience of the year is here.”
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Brad Barrett at Drowned In Sound, like many reviewers, imagines that ‘ODDSAC’ will test the devotion of recent fans won over by the much more accessible ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’, finding the album’s sonic side to be self-indulgent in the extreme, though concluding “It’s a frightening, surreal but compelling work that draws on the strengths of Animal Collective while also adding perspective to their failings, in this case allowing their sonic indulgences to dictate the direction”.
Daniel Ross, for The Quietus, finds the album ultimately just rather silly, but charmingly so: “As their star has risen in the independent music community, a lot of the fun has been removed from our Animal Collective’s music – the reverence in which they’re held detracting from the playful sensibility that runs through their work. ODDSAC, then, is a reminder that Animal Collective can be enjoyed and appreciated for their brightness, not endlessly dissected or over-analysed. ” Just so – last one to the vampire food-fight’s a chin-stroker.