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Animal Collective - Campfire Songs
Campfire Songs may be one of the most comforting albums I’ve heard in my life. It’s one of the first Animal Collective releases, and drastically different than the rest of their output at the time. Recorded directly after Danse Manatee, one of their most noisy, if not the most noisy album in their discography, it seems like the anti-thesis of everything that makes Danse Manatee what it is. Campfire Songs was recorded by three members of the band, Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Deakin, in a porch in a rural part of Marlyand in the early November morning. The sounds of the wilderness awaking, and starting their day creep into the tracks so beautifully. The first track Queen In My Pictures acts as a way of sucking you into the forests of Maryland, with the faint rain (or is it tape hiss?) in the background and its repeated acoustically strummed guitars. The faint, barely there, vocal harmonies are ethereal, and make the album feel full, yet still taking empty space as a musical technique. By the end of Queen In My Pictures their quiet playing picks up speed and leads into the somber Doggy, their guitars pulsating and creating the beat. The lyrics are about Avey’s dog and its death. The simple, yet saddening make the song reach even further than it already would be without it. “Dog of depth in the dirt / They buried you deep, doggy / You’re the best doggy / My friend has a doggy / She’s real nice, wish you could chase her ‘round the yard.” Not only is that stanza full of emotion, the repeated chorus of “And you lay there / So still dog,” is just perfect. As the song ends, you hear the sounds of a plane flying overhead, and the noises of the rain starting to pick up.The third track, Two Corvettes is also just as beautiful, ethereal, and dreamy as the past two yet it evolves into a nightmare. The lyrics talk of two different men saying to their girlfriends “Let’s take a ride in my Corvette / Everything is fine in my Corvette,” and at around the 3:20 mark, Avey, Panda, and Deakins erratic guitar strumming come in, jolting you out of their calming dream of the past 2 and a half songs. Tare sings, about the two couples untimely death in a car crash, “Two Corvettes / Collide / On the freeway.” And the psychotic strumming leaves as fast as it came. Leaving you with only the sounds of the weather outside and the group whispering, “Moo Rah Rah Rain” as the fourth song of the same name begins. Almost as if on cue, a thunderstorm begins to begin in the background. The rain picks up, and the sky rumbles. It’s songs like this that makes me admire the nature of the East Coast out my window. And all nature in general too. The Earth basically perfected art before we even tried. And just as the closer De Soto De Sun starts the thunder seems to vanish, and the rain dies down, and the birds come out from their sleep and sing their songs along with the Collective. The major arpeggios signal that the darkness of Two Corvettes and Moo Rah Rah Rain are over, and nature is returning to its normal state of happiness. I can’t make out what their saying or what the songs about, so I don’t have anything to talk about on that front, but I cannot stop talking about how beautiful the entire thing is. It’s a package dreamy, psychedelic acoustic, well campfire songs. That’s what this album is meant to portray; a group of people crowding around a warm fire, and singing together. It’s simple pleasure of life, and they captured the essence and put it into this record.
I didn’t even know I could write this much about an album wow.
Never Run AwayKurt Vile
I’m a sucker for shoegazy songs with reverberated vocals and psychedelic influences and this one is no exception. Probably the shortest song on the (great!) album, and the catchiest one.
Oh, and I love the cover, too!
Black Is The ColorEspers
Black Is The Color
black, black, black
is the colour of my true love’s hair.
Review: Ashan - Ancient Forever
Sean Conrad has been exploring his way through different shades of psychedelic folk over quite a few years now, first starting the adventure with wonderfully randomly-named Gkfoes Vjgoaf, going through a number of different projects, currently stopping at Ashan. There is a certain New Age ideology connected with all music of Sean Conrad, and that of the Inner Islands record label, with the short description of “Ancient Forever” being “exploring the deep energies of the Earth”, among other pursuits.
The music of Ashan often sounds psychedelic, but there are no implications of drug use or any invites to use them - in other words, Sean Conrad might be a beardo but he’s no weirdo. Instead of running into strange, trippy collages or improvisations he opts for clarity and crystal quality of his music, made with simplest instrumentarium around (mostly acoustic guitar and wordless female vocals, moaning and humming away). Conrad takes the peaceful, folky tunes and transform them into looping, enthralling tapestries, stimulating the imagination and filling the air with kind spirits. Harmony with nature is the key here; leaving the civilization and embracing the wilder side is the key.
Both Sean Conrad and the Inner Islands label reject the (anti)social media (i.e. Twitter or Facebook) - sure, there are websites, but they function just as a tool of prividing some basic information and a mean of purchasing the albums. But they really don’t give a shit how many “likes” or “followers” they have. They decide not to waste their time trying to build a “fanbase” or whatever it’s called in the social media technobabble these days. Instead, they just make music that makes them (and the listeners) happy and re-discover what many people lost, surrounded by gadgets and hi-tech machinery. They go out, to explore the wilderness and gain happiness from it. We should probably follow them - the summer is coming, after all!