Back to a four-piece following the return of Josh Dibb (aka Deakin), who ducked out of the band’s 2009 critical hit Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective have dived deeper into their neon-lit rabbit hole for this ninth album. Centipede Hz is dense and detailed, invigorating and intoxicating. It requires a musical aperitif prior to experiencing, or else the listener risks being overwhelmed by the sensory rush.
Actually, that’s exactly what should happen. It’s absolutely paramount that you, listener, take yourself away from any other activity while Centipede Hz plays. Distractions will numb its potency – and believe these words when they state you’ll want to be completely consumed by this album. It’s the only way to properly feel it: into brain, blood, skin, and back into the air, hair buzzing, fingernails dancing. Close your eyes: soon enough pictures paint themselves across the blank canvas. They may not be clear, appearing as strange shape-shifting things, but they’re certainly captivating.
It might not be Animal Collective’s very best album to date – perhaps 2007’s Strawberry Jam deserves that honour, for its combination of creative boldness and no-second-wasted brevity – but the 55 minutes of Centipede Hz are geared for maximum connect between artist and audience. The album’s sequencing seems spot on, the cliché of “taking one on a journey” coming to mind, but not without reason – segues of static and radio chatter between songs ensure momentum’s never lost.
Transitions like that of Today’s Supernatural, an irresistible sci-fi sea shanty, into Rosie Oh, fizzy funk dressed in dusty folk threads, are indicative of a superb understanding of ‘proper’ album dynamics. This was designed to be heard in full, not picked apart by shuffle functions. That said, after a handful of plays highlights become apparent – though they’re likely to vary from ears to ears.
Monkey Riches is tumultuously evolving dance-pop shocked by vocal screeches and assaulted by a cavalcade of cut-and-pasted samples, and Mercury Man slips inside haunted-house Krautrock. Opener Moonjock, meanwhile, winds transmissions from deep space around skull-thumping percussion – but the pain’s a pleasant one.
Submit fully to Centipede Hz and it will infect you, quite deliciously, for the foreseeable.
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