Strictly speaking, "Hollinndagain" is not a new Animal Collective album. It's their only live performance, recorded several years ago and previously only available for a limited printing. Only on vinyl. It was sort of the Holy Grail for Animal Collective fans.
Well, fortunately that's done, since this live album has finally come out on CD. And only mild tinniness shows that it is a life performance, as Animal Collective buzzes, bangs, and wobbles through a string of eerie songs -- this is nicely solid, atmospheric music.
It starts off slow, with a soft fizzing noise, as if the band is setting up in front of an open mike. The buzzing gets louder and is laced with synth, and slowly segues into a hesitant little pop melody that slowly falls silent... and explodes back into the raucous, plaintive "Pride and Fight." It sounds like a tribal chant on acid.
They run through explosive percussion of "Forest Gospel," which sounds like someone let the Muppet Animal loose onstage, as someone mumbles intermittently. Then the band runs through a dreamlike psychedelic soundscape, trips back to a wavery chant song, and finally into an eerie darker song. It sounds like someone is sobbing... until it twists into a tangle of twisted squeaks and groans.
"Hollinndagain" is very much a child of Animal Collective's first proper album, which was dreamlike, creepy and sort of tribal. You hear that frequently here. But this live performance showed how they were starting to explore new sounds and new ways of presenting their bizarre experimental music.
Except for a faint echo on the vocals, you wouldn't even know this was a live performance. Their music blares out with explosive energy, and the softer songs are only a reprieve -- smashing drums, buzzing guitars, and a colourful smorgasbord of sound effects, from static to squeaky wheels to alarm clocks.
And the songs flow nicely into one another, without much audience noise -- I can only assume that the music stunned them into silence. The only flaw is the finale, "Pumpkin Gets A Snakebite" -- after the slow decline of the previous song, it's jarring to hear this raucous little song song smack you in the face.
The formerly rare "Hollinndagain" is a glimpse of the evolving Animal Collective back when it was young, and definitely an entertaining little album.