on 22 February 2007
This album is really beautiful. Sounds like Pet Sounds/Smile but not in a corny, derivative way. It has a similar warm spiritual sound, only with loads of weird samples and loops. Great to listen to out walking on a sunny day, and the cover art is excellent too.
on 22 August 2008
I'm probably the last blogger alive to post a review of Panda Bear's 2007 indie favourite 'Person Pitch' so I'll try to keep this relatively brief. It featured on the end of year lists of many music magazines and blogs and having resisted it for over a year I am suddenly unsure why I was stubborn about it. I have been an admirer, though not precisely a fan, of Animal Collective for some years now, but more importantly I am a fan of the kind of cut and paste, DIY aesthetic that characterises this album. So, on paper this should have been a shoo-in for me.
If you don't know already, Panda Bear - also known as Noah Lennox - creates impressionistic collages from found sound, layered (home-made) beach boy harmonies and samples. Like his parent band and affiliate Ariel Pink, his music is imbued with a kind of heavily abstracted childhood nostalgia, almost an acid flashback to some indefinite sun-drenched 60s heyday when the kids were free and the pot was cheap. Again, as with Animal Collective, there is something volatile, almost nauseating about Panda Bear's kaleidoscopic, sonic sugar-rush of candy-coloured textures. Despite the warped cassette-mimicked distortion and tendency to rather overpile the ingredients, there is a kind of Beach Boys-in-a-blender orthodoxy to his music. There is a very particular vision, and Panda Bear explores this landscape tirelessly, even repetitively. The singing - lyrics mostly indecipherable - is used more as an instrument than a vocal. Heavy on reverb, they always sound detached, abstract, never entirely lucid.
The joyous opener 'Comfy In Nautica' begins with what sounds like what I'd like to believe is the tracks of a big dipper - one of the those rickerty old Coney Island ones. A woozy head-rush of loops and harmonies, it recalls Caribou's similar, more polished album of the same year 'Andorra', but with a textural roughness that somehow places it closer to the 60s psychedelia that evidently influences both artists. The loop of a scateboard clattering over paving stones forms the basis for 'Take Pills', a drift of hazy psych pop with a little splice of stoner guitar: the sort sampled by Cypress Hill on tracks like 'Hits from the Bong'. 'Bros', the album's centrepiece, is 12 minutes plus of slowly morphing cut and paste. A bubbling cauldron of sonic ephemera it builds into a heady, almost maddening carousel of blissful noise. 'I'm Not' provides a welcome change of mood with four minutes of stain-glass ambience and a choral, even spiritual quality more Brian Eno than Brian Wilson.
Thereafter, 'Person Pitch' doesn't quite hit the same heights. 'Good Girl' and 'Carrots' merge together to form another lengthy opus, but there are too many ideas being too loosely held together. 'Search for Delicious' is another ethereal ambient piece with a cavernous, Cathedral-esque resonance but is not quite as striking as 'I'm Not'. The closer 'Ponytail' is just a brief reprise of the detached, Beach Boys harmonies that informed most of 'Person Pitch' - a strange sickly brew indeed. If you like this, try aforementioned artists and albums, or The Ruby Suns 'Sea Lion'.
While I adore Panda Bear's work in the Animal Collective, I just never warmed up to "Young Prayer." It was too simple, too meandering.
Fortunately the same is not true of the follow-up, "Person Pitch," which adds some extra sonic dimension to Panda Bear's strange melodies. Where once his music was spare and almost painfully lo-fi, now it's a shimmering, bizarre, otherworldly extravaganza, like a hazy-eyed circus.
It opens with a rattling, fluttering noise, like a kitchen appliance right before it dies. It gets joined in by the sound of marching, a lion roaring, and voices raised in wordless song. It sounds like a happy, cheerful revolution.
Over those sounds, Panda Bear sings rather distantly, "Try to tell me how to do it/only because I'm new to here/coolness is having courage/courage to do what's right/I'll try to remember always/just to have a good time/good time good time good time..."
The songs that follow are much the same -- stately tambourine pop, an acoustic indiepop number that sounds like it was played underwater, swirling cacophonies, shimmering vocal pop, tribal beats, ethereal ambient stuff, and finally the soft, unsure, shimmering "Ponytail" with its distant vocals.
And he sprinkles it with plenty of other stuff -- sirens, bubbling water, descending planes, owls hooting, and basically whatever odd, appropriate sounds work in these songs. Perhaps the main problem is that it's full of double songs that would have worked better if they had been cut into separate tracks.
But it shows that Panda Bear is adept at swirling, bizarrely otherworldly music. The music here is more ethereal and less earthy than his Animal Collective work -- rather than a crazy acid trip or a tribal party (although we do get some wild tribal beats), this music sounds like a gentle dream of peace and shimmering skies.
Instead of the acoustic stuff of "Young Prayer," we have wild painting of samplers, keyboard, shimmering synth, bittersweet ambience, and occasionally a bit of sprightly guitar pop. Sometimes it sounds like a mess, yet somehow it swirls together into an exquisite pop tapestry.
And it has some lovely lyrics too: "When my soul starts glowing/when my soul starts growing/I am as I want to be/and I know I never will stop growing." Panda Bear's voice is a sweet, subdued one, which he uses as an instrument as often as he actually sings -- he becomes a part of the warm, dreamlike sound.
Beautiful and airy, "Person Pitch" is a complete 180 from his previous solo work. But that is only for the best -- an exquisite little sonic gem.
on 29 January 2008
This is a quite fantastic album - looking at the other reviews perhaps this isn't for everyone, but quite simply I believe this is one of the best albums of 2007. Give it a go - if its for you then it will stay with you for a long time. A beautiful and vivid summer album...
on 23 February 2007
Starting what is sure to be a phenomenal year for everything Animal Collective related, Person Pitch by AC drummer Panda Bear is the first essential album of 2007. His previous solo LP, Young Prayer -all acoustic strumming and moaning, all tracks untitled- bears little resemblence to this: a stunning cacophony of reverb-soaked Beach Boys harmonies that just melt into your conscious, impossibly upbeat and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The standout track, though hard to choose, is Bros, a twelve minute waterfall of beautiful noise that sucks you in until you're singing along to words you can barely understand amid the crashing guitars and loops. Completely unique.
on 19 April 2008
I was introduced to this music by it's inclusion as a soundtrack on a spoof trailer on YouTube for Francis Ford Coppola's up and (long time) coming film of Kerouac's On The Road. The music caught my ear and I bought the CD. I don't look for anything deep in it, I suppose it's ambient with muscle, sort of stream of consciousness in music rather than words. Played early in the morning on a bright sunny day it fits the mood.
Any band who list -as Panda Bear do on the insert sleeve -influences such as Scott Walker, Ennio Morricone, The Beach Boys, Vashti Bunyan ,ELO, The Chills are as far as I'm concerned a band that needs to be heard. ....though I think they are pushing it a bit by counting Phil Collins in their as well .
Panda Bear is actually Noah Lennox, a member of The Animal Collective ensemble .While their avant-folk is based around some sort of pastoral affinity Panda Bear are far more in tune with more spiritual concerns , or at least that's how it sounds. The whole thing seems to be have been sung from some point high in the atmosphere where the vocals and to some extent the instrumentation has been rendered hazy and reverb heavy , as if the music's been filtered through the ozone layer and stripped of it's immediacy in the process. That's not a bad thing by the way .
The songs on Person Pitch are constructed , assembled , insert your own verb here from looped samples, and snippets of found sounds-trains rattling by, owls hooting , ephemeral snatches of conversation - some run backwards ,including vocal lines. It's psychedelic and yet has definitive connections with the repetitive nature of much electronic and ambient music while sounding curiously analog and organic.
The thing that really elevates Person Pitch are the multi-lapping vocal harmonies which are obviously where The Beach Boy comparisons come in . "Bros" , a twelve minute anthem that starts with the sort of choral epiphanies Brain Wilson made his mane with then over furiously strummed chords the track takes in influences as diverse as Lee Scratch Perry , hard edged techno and The Stone Roses "Don't Stop". "I'm Not" is this approach but minimalist , with only fleeting tapping percussion and an eerie synth drone like a bronchial whale inhaling . "Good Girl/Carrots " is shepherded in with frantic Tablas and is a bit of a mess for the first five minutes but then Lennox's voice breaks through the miasma for a another glorious harmonic interlude before going all dub heavy for the last third. Most approachable track is the opener "Comfy In Nautica" but "Search For Delicious" could be a Hans Joachim Roedelius or Harold Budd while "Pony Tail" is lovely brief piano keyboard led intermission. "Take Pills" integrates elements of everything.
Person Pitch sounds like it's sung from a flying fortress high in the sky or that is filtering through from another dimension with it's otherworldly and spookily dissonant instrumentation ( at times) diametrically opposed to the lavish tunes of the vocals but i think i,ve been here earlier in the review...forgive me , it,s that sort of album. Other times it's a perfect harmonic melding like The Beach Boys(Yes them again) -but remixed alternately by The Avalanches and Techno Animal . Whatever it's influences this album transcends many of them ...without doubt Person Pitch will be one of the most extraordinary albums released this year if not the most extraordinary .
on 10 June 2013
This is an absolutely wonderful album. Bursting with ideas, musicianship (and youtube reveals him to be a great musician) and beauty. 'Bros' is one of the great tracks of the last ten years.
more proof of why the UK music scene is so rubbish. this is true innovation, yes it's rooted in the past, but avoids nostalgia by using the harmonies of the beach boys, reverb drenched sounds of Spector (yes that one), the tape loops of Never Knows beatles and the studio wizardry of purple patch Lee Perry to give electronic music a transcendentally beautiful leap forward.
what's the cutting edge of Brit music? Another 4 skinny cookie cutter indie kids singing about chip shops over the riff from the Knack's 'My Sherona'.
this at least offers some escape from that reality-TV like 'gritty' 70s rooted groundhog garbage. you know i've heard Sham 69, and they weren't all that, so GIVE IT A REST!
ultimately, this is what a Christmas album produced by David Lynch would sound like. What's not to like?
on 8 September 2007
This is an album you'll either love or hate.
Sheer Genius or Extremely Boring...
I think it's Genius - very helpfully, he lists his influences on the CD cover and I can identify with a lot of them. But this isn't music I'd expect to result from those influences! Which makes it very interesting...
Yes, the Beach Boys spring to mind but you need to warp them 40 years into the future...