Avey Tare / Down There / Paw Tracks
As Animal Collective vocalist Avey Tare (David Portner) proved several times the past few years, he is more than capable of taking two seemingly dissonant and weird handfuls, clapping them together and turning them into something unique and mind-altering with an undeniable hook. However, Tare’s solo debut Down There fails to take flight in the same way as Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, choosing instead to creep over the tiles of the flooded basement where the majority of the release seems to have been recorded. Beyond literally manifesting itself on “Ghost of Books”, flowing water also seems to have wreaked havoc on much of the tracking process, with Tare’s trademark warbled vocal effects bleeding through to the synthesizers and drum machines.
These kinds of tactics work well on Animal Collective records when acting as mood-setting intros to dynamic songs, but on Down There the intros persist for four and a half minutes of aimless “beeps”, “boops” and disjointed, indecipherable lyrics – and then the song ends. Twenty-five minutes in, with a succession of bass drum kicks and a series of echoing vocal call-and-responses, “Heads Hammock” finally provides Down There with an actual pulse. This life is sustained for the remainder of the album, which consists of two songs dealing, ironically, with the topic of sustaining life – but these indicators of a heartbeat are a weak consolation for the initial vegetative block of tepid tunes.
Download: “Heads Hammock”