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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 3 September 2012
Trying to review the new Animal Collective album "Centipede Hz" without reference to its generation defining predecessor "Merriweather Post Pavilion" is nigh on impossible. The phrase "chalk and cheese" doesn't come close. Having listened to this album streamed over the AC "Centipede Radio" for the past five days is akin to one of those horrible change curves that management theorists can get very excited about. You start off in a mild state of shock. What the hell is this noise, why are we being bombarded by all these tinny frequencies, where is the presence of any low end bass on the album and where is My Girls 2? The next stage is anger and depression. Come on Panda Bear and Avey Tare you surely can do better than this? Everything about MPP was borderline perfection, it was like Brian Wilson had really finished "Smile" but went to Berlin, had it produced by Kraftwerk, bumped into Spiritualized on the way and pinched some unreleased tapes from Super Furry Animals and asked Eno to mix. Where are the big production values, the experimental dance music, the shimmering, bell-like tones strung out and stretched against a backdrop of huge micro-beats and most of all the massive sense of fun with "Daily Routine" staking a claim for the indie national anthem of the noughties.

Then suddenly integration and acceptance slopes in. "Centipede Hz" creeps up you like a stealth bomber. A hand grenade is taken to the expansive MPP sound and instead garage pop rock is the order of the day with certain songs screaming for your attention in the same way "For Reverend Green" from Strawberry Jam burrowed up your musical drainpipe. The opener "Moonjock" which starts with industrial drumming until the hugely recognisable vocals of Tare and Lennox creep in and all of a sudden so do some lovely melodies albeit amidst a bewildering cacophony of sound. Possibly the one potential "hit" on the album is "Todays Supernatural" which actually sounds like a Phoenix song and is excellent. It is followed by the brilliantly quirky "Rosie Oh" full of Syd Barrett influences and again a infectious pop song that repays repeated listens. When it comes to "Applesauce" if the production values had been boasted and made bigger it could have happily fitted on MPP, while the song "Wide eyed" marks the return to the group of Josh `Deakin' Dibb although its one of those songs easier to admire than love, it could however be a grower. The spirit of Van Dyke Parks haunts "Father time" but again this is not a great song. Much better by far is the chilly anthem "New town burnout" which clicks along with a great Tare vocal and strong hooks. The challenging "Monkey riches" has so much going on its difficult to find a decent starting part. One thing for certain is no other group is trying this hard to be boundary spanners and open new doors. Indeed "Mercury Man" appears to achieve the feat of being completely obtuse and maddenly catchy at the same time, while to these ears the bubbly "Pulleys" could well be one of the albums standout tracks. The whole thing is rounded off by "Aminata" full of weird squeaks, bursts of percussion and a lifting melody struggling to get out until around four minutes when it sounds like a Cossack dance on ecstasy.

Health Warning - if you hated "Merriweather Post Pavilion" do not touch "Centipede Hz" with a one mile long bargepole. The words "kings new clothes" will be used with rapier like incision and your beloved reviewer cursed into hades deepest pit. Alternatively if you loved "Strawberry Jam" this may intrigue and eventually carve out a warm place in your affections. By any objective definition this is an album that stands in a giant shadow cast by its predecessor which inevitably steals some of its light, but did anyone really expect or desire a similar follow up? Animal Collective alongside Grizzly Bear remain one of the most intriguing and original bands on the planet prepared to make huge mistakes if that means not sounding like every other indie clone or nu folk copyist, but always producing the best modern sounds for modern days. "Centipede Hz"is by any standards a brilliant failure and sometimes celebrating those who try hardest but don't always win is the one of the most important values we have.
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on 9 September 2012
Animal Collective are much loved by critics and fans alike. Merriweather Post Pavilion was a breakthrough for them and whilst they didn't become the huge act many expected it did increase their currency and notoriety. All of that leaves them with a bit of difficult task in releasing Centipede HZ. As ever AC defy the conventional and expected and come up with a different album altogether that may well divide fans, critics and expectations. This is a collection of tracks that takes time to work and after the instant shock of squelches and technology it reveals melody, sound and inventiveness.

AC albums are all about a feeling, a mood. MPP felt like a warm lazy day on a beach. Centipede HZ feels like being on a spaceship and turning on intergalactic radio. You can't always discern the instrumentation, there are lots of noises and samples (one track finishes with a vocoded cry of Johnny Walker - its not just me that hears that is it?). However, this mess of noise on first listen gradually becomes clearer. The first track that really seeped into my brain was the rather wonderful Today's Supernatural. It is a heady, breathless, joyous number that has the catchy hook of 'Come on let go' at the start of what could in normal terms be called a verse - if such structures exist within AC's world. It also contains the line 'Come on let go the shifting easel.' This brings to mind the shifting style and focus AC embody. Mercury Man startles on first listen but it works well and is a very memorable number. Other stand out tracks include Father Time and Moon Jock. However, this is one album which will reveal more on each listen.

I really need to warn anyone want MPP2 that this is a shock to the senses on first listen. It may not be quite as good as that album either. But it is a challenging, revealing and ultimately rewarding album. However, the real thought you are left with is how very inventive AC are. Yes separately they release good albums too. But together they constantly defy expectations, experiment and come up with a different sound every time. In the days of X Factor, bland boy bands and repetitive RnB this is something to be applauded. AC might not be to everyone's taste. Their music may make you admire them more than love them. However, their constant invention should be a cause for celebration in today's climate.
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on 4 September 2012
The first couple of times I heard "Centipede Hz" it seemed to be a rather chaotic and overwhelming experience. But like a musical version of a magic eye picture it gradually came into focus and I began to appreciate the details within the songs.

As has been said before by other people, this album bears little resemblance to the previous release but long term fans of Animal Collective will be used to this by now as the band never repeat themselves.

The single "Today's Supernatural" stands out as the catchiest song sounding rather like a nightmare funfair ride with pounding percussion and a suitably creepy video by the director of Oddsac.

Most of tracks are sung by Avey Tare whose vocals seem, at first, to be a little too intense at times but after a number of listens I've got used to him.

Panda Bear offers relative calm with his contributions offering the rather wonky but brilliant "Rosie Oh" amongst others. Even Deakin sings a lead vocal in "Wide Eyed" which was a pleasant surprise and a nice contrast to Avey and Panda.

It's a peculiar album really with strange samples (courtesy of Geologist), disorientating psychedelic textures and hypnotising rhythms. Every time I listen I hear new elements that I'd not noticed before and it makes me want to come back for more.

My only criticism really is that the album could do with a little bit of space - perhaps a couple of quieter, more reflective pieces to act as a breather from the sonic onslaught because at first it does feel a little overwhelming. My favourite album by Animal Collective is "Feels" which gets this balance spot on.

Overall though this album is another distinctive and imaginative release by one of the most interesting bands around. It does take a number of listens to get used to though so do persevere if you're having a tough time with it.
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on 21 March 2013
Even given that Merriweather Post Pavilion was almost wholly lacking in any discernable basslines (the addition of a few would certainly have helped out and if the lads want a hand with this aspect of their work, I'm free, willing and able!), I really, REALLY enjoyed that album as it positively throbbed with bright, fresh, ingenious life.

When my brother and I were very young we used to stand on chairs to reach the kitchen sink and mum would allow us to take a wee bit of anything we wanted (detergents, condiments, flour, food colouring, breakfast cereals etc.) from cupboards, bags, boxes and throw it all in the sink and mix it around to see just what we would come up with. We called the ensuing brew 'Dragon Killer' and the only thing to do with it at the end was to flush it all down the sink cause, while we had fun making it and we did come up with some weird and wonderful concoctions, it was NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

And that's what happened here. A group of chefs (with a decade's experience making experimental but surprisingly tasty and filling fare) decided to make a casserole. So together they threw in carrots, haddock, beef, chillies, spuds, horseradish, sausages, monkfish, cheese, couscous, duck, anchovies, raisons, aubergines and cabbage. Then they closed their eyes, selected a random handful of herbs and spices from the rack and chucked them all in too. Then they got their oven as hot as it would go and bunged the whole lot in for an hour. Voila - Centipede Hz!

I sure hoped they enjoyed producing it, cause I sure didn't enjoy listening to it. And I wanted to so much! Everything seems to be mixed without any thought of light or shade, everything full whack all the time, pretty much. And each track so lacking in any real character that it is hard to remember, even having listened to it 3 times in 2 days, any real highlights. And the critics going on about the lovely mess the lads have made. Seriously?

For a bunch who have been cooking for as long as the Animal Collective, I really expected them to grow up and serve up a much better feed.
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on 24 September 2012
After the breakout of MPP, Centipede HZ is a return to the chaotic, sensory overload, hoe-down on acid of Strawberry Jam. I don't have a problem with this. For me, Animal Collective were always supposed to be "difficult". A bit of a challenge sonically. Having said this though, it's actually not that difficult a listen. AC have always known how to turn out a good tune and there are plenty on Centipede HZ. Today's Supernatural is most immediate, Applesauce is glorious and the closer Amanita really grows. So don't let the noise put you off!
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on 4 September 2012
Animal Collective have been trying almost singlehandedly, to drag alternative rock music into the future for well over a decade now and for their commitment alone I think they deserve considerable praise. Retro, retro, retro is what so many bands have been content to strive for in the 21st century, so it's always comforting to know that when Avey, Panda, Geologist and Deakin get together you're going to hear something truly original. Centipede HZ the bands ninth studio album follows this brave formula and even though I'm not totally in love with every song on here, I'm happy to report that for the most part it's another triumph for the Baltimore band.

Animal Collective's serpentine mantra of constant evolution has meant that Centipede Hz has only a few remnants of what made their 2009 breakthrough album Merriweather Post Pavilion such a unanimous success. Instead they've opted for a more Chaotic and live feel this time round, with explosive percussion, Mutant guitar and Avey tares frenetic vocals featuring heavily on most of these songs. Producer Ben Allen has been brought back again though and the inviting pop tinged electronic sheen he helped to perfect on MPP is the one thing he's managed to carry over onto Centipede HZ.

This hybrid has created some of the most unique songs of 2012, "Todays Supernatural" has been circulating for a while now but its carnivelesque instrumentation, ¾ time and Avey Tare's bug eyed mini chorus still make it a bewildering listen after repeated spins. "Applesauce" "Father Time" and "Monkey Riches" are also completely unhinged but utterly beguiling in the way only an Avey Tare fronted song can be. His vocal screeches on these songs strike a fascinating balance between Billy Corgan's yelp and Black Francais's growl and sonically the plethora of noise and melody the aforementioned songs are packed with, threaten to overload the cerebal cortex to the state of combustion. That may not sound particularly appealing on paper but if you're into extreme, futuristic pop you'll be sure to get a kick out of hearing these songs.

The less abrasive moments on the album certainly come as a welcome addition though; "Rosie OH" is one of the few songs where Panda Bear takes microphone duties and although there are still a tonne of electronic effects and goodness knows what else polluting the track, his mellower voice helps to keep you invested in the crazy cacophony that follows. Deakin also sings for the first time too on "Wide Eyed" and it's another opportunity for the listener to catch his breath, as his voice is also rather sedate and accessible in comparison to Avey Tare's.

The otherworldy maelstrom the band have whipped up on Centipede HZ make it tempting to label it their Saucerful of Secrets, but I think that description implies AC have suddenly gotten a lot more serious again ala Here Comes The Indian. I don't feel this album is meant to genuinely freak you out; it's essentially a thrill ride of experimental fun with the band openly inviting you join in at particular moments (just listen to the laughs at the end of "Wide Eyed" and the goofiness of "Applesauce". As I alluded to earlier there were times where I found myself a little drained by all of the giddiness and eccentricity, nevertheless I'm charmed by their continued enthusiasm to still bring something new to table 12 years into their career, CHZ it's not as ground-breaking as MPP or as flat out brilliant as Sung Tongs or Feels but it Is undeniably as eclectic as those impressive works. Chicha music, avant-garde, Electronica and a myriad of other genres have been brought together on Centipede HZ to create a thoroughly exciting tour de force of indefatigable pop.
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on 13 December 2012
Don't expect to enjoy Animal Collective as easy background listening. They really do need to be LISTENED to. Their intricate multi-layered sounds constantly unfold after every successive play. I'm still hearing new elements in Merriweather Post Pavillion after all this time and although this new album has not yet won me over to the same extent as what has become one of my all-time favourites... it's getting there. Great news that they are all back together. They are not just for the younger followers but will also appeal to all aging fans of arty rock who fancy the prospect of Beach Boys sing Captain Beefheart!
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on 7 September 2012
I won't get into the music on this album, others have said it well enough already, and if you're a fan you'll grow to like this.

However, why on earth compress the production so badly, no bass, no dynamic range, sounds like it was produced and mixed on an iPod...playing it at any volume is a shrill experience!!!

Compared to production on MPP it's like listening to AM radio...shocking, and disappointing!
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on 6 September 2012
I knew that Centipede Hz was going to be a bit special when I saw Animal Collective last year. In Eastbourne! I'd gone expecting them to do a whole set from Merryweather Post Pavilion, and came away baffled by the fact that a) they only did one song off that album and b) the stuff I was listening to was louder, spikier and far far more percussive. I'd guess that, at the time, the songs were still coming together, hence the long delay between then and now. Finally Centipede is out and I can listen to the songs properly. And they are even better than I remember.

I came to Animal Collective a bit late. I liked Feels and loved Strawberry Jam, but what left me a bit cold with both albums was that a fantastic pacy number would often be followed by what, to these ears, sounded a bit noodly. Then came Merryweather Post Pavilion, which for me was, and still is, one the most wonderful albums ever released.

Then came the wait. I liked Avey Tare's Down There well enough; both Person Pitch and Tomboy by Panda Bear are good albums. And I have, in various states, listened to Bros on repeat for hours! However, for me, there was always the feeling that I was just waiting for the latest offering by Collective themselves. And now it's here - and not just three of them, but all four. And it's wonderful.

No dreamy meanderings. No half-baked ideas. Each track is a pounding thrash of superbly produced sounds; hard-hitting, percussive, with catchy snatches of synth and guitar, and overlaid/underpinned with beautiful harmony-drenched melodies. What's more, unlike MPP, which was a bit of a grower, it's immediate.

I'm not going to go into the individual tracks - others have done that - except to say that at the moment, Pulleys is my favourite. Or maybe New Town Burnout. Or possibly Today's Supernatural... Aargh! It's all fantastic. If you liked the louder songs of Animal Collective (and its constituent parts) in the past, then you will love Centipede Hz. For me, it's the album I always hoped they'd make.
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on 12 May 2014
I don't get why some people say that it needs 10 listens before you get it. Moonjock , Todays Supernatural, Rosie Oh , Applesauce and Wide Eyed Make up the first half of this album and straight away all 5 are up their with my favourite AC songs. Amanita , New Town Burnout and Monkey Riches are also pretty straight forward And very decent tracks. The others definitely grew on me after a few listens, But If anything this is one of the more straight forward AC albums. The album sounds fantastic on headphones.
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