Circus animals

I should post this now while I’m still in the midst of the obsession…

Most people like to bring a hearty novel with them when they travel, something to sink one’s mind into while free from familiar patterns. I do this as well, but I also like to take a new album with me. I figure that if I find something addictive and play it over and over it will become stuck to the experience when I listen again later and out of context. This particular musical companion is Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion.

And now’s the point when I attempt to describe the indescribable, which is particularly difficult because this music is so completely different from anything I’ve ever heard. Imagine the Beach Boys goofed up on Prozac. Imagine that recurring manic parade from the Satoshi Kon movie Paprika. Imagine the look on Ren’s face while he’s wearing Stimpy’s invention and dancing to the “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song. It’s kinda like that.

There’s a pattern there. This isn’t just jubilant music, but music that has some dark undercurrent that is then painted over — beautifully, I might add — with layers of jubilance. It’s manic and insane and blissful and… happy? I guess so, but it’s more like the circus is in town and you’re laughing and you’re constantly surprised and impressed, but you wonder what’s going on backstage. Maybe they all hate each other. Maybe the bearded lady is whacked out on meth and the clowns get together for booze-filled poker games that usually end in fist-fights.

This is a good thing. Really. There’s that much depth happening in this music. But you have to listen with headphones to reveal all this madness. Then you have to decide… do I want to get up and dance around like a loon, or fall asleep?

Here’s a clip from probably my favorite song right now (it keeps changing). I hate to show this because you should really listen with your eyes closed to get the effect. But oh well…

Notice that the chorus doesn’t come in until the 3-minute mark. (And what a delicious chorus it is, with those incredible layers of vocal melodies harmonizing together like that.) This is post-radio music. Radio can keep recycling the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay and dig further into irrelevance along with the media conglomerates that force that crap down our throats. The best stuff travels by word of mouth and alternative media, which is how I came across it.

Anyway, kudos guys. Brilliant stuff, just brilliant.

EDIT (about 15 minutes later): OK, that’s weird. After I posted that I started surfing around Youtube to listen to their earlier music. (MPP is the only album of theirs that I’ve listened to.) There’s a video for a song called “Peacebone” that has a nightmarish monster wearing a happy mask and he goes to the circus with his freaky girlfriend. So… I guess I pretty much got it. Gotta say though, I didn’t like that song very much. I like it better when they keep the nightmare hidden.

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One Response to “Circus animals”

  1. that was really good

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