Thursday, 1 November 2007
A study into the possibility that Panda Bear has made the best album of 2007
This rather unassuming chap is Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear, a founding member of Animal Collective and the genius behind the best album you will hear all year, Person Pitch. A masterpiece of looped samples, sweet lilting vocals and hypnotic melodies, Person Pitch sounds like Pet Sounds if The Beach Boys had ditched their guitars and picked up two sampling units instead.
Opener 'Comfy In Nautica' is simply beautiful. The opening chants roll and crash, lulling the listener into a hypnotic trance. It's, at the same time, both a humbling and uplifting experience. The crashing drums and gregorian chanting hit you round the face while Noah's sweet, tender and naive vocals caress your cheek to make it better. Its this mix of the grand and the simple that runs throughout the whole album, the granduer of the music is contradicted by the simplicity and all round pop sensibility of the vocal patterns. As an instrumental piece this album would be an extremely experimental and rather avant garde, but nontheless beautiful, prospect. The vocals give it that push over the edge into populist territory, a sweetener in a sour cup of coffee. This is not to say, however, that this record is going to find its way onto the Christmas list of your average 'shop for music at Tesco' listener. The 10 minute long plus tracks ('Bros', 'Good Girl/Carrots') and constant time changes put pay to that, but thats what I love about this album, it constantly suprises you. 'Take Pills' begins as a melancholic dreamscape, a tale of a building reliance on prescription medication, and builds in this vein until suddenly switching to a joyous dance around the maypole, complete with hand claps and giddy vocals. On 'Good Girl / Carrots' you have a song in three sections. The first a tabla driven, distinctly tribal experience, with rolling drums and posessed stacatto vocals that eventually give way to a more gentle second piece which is possibly the most pop moment on the album (by pop you have to understand I mean the section that more closely resembles music not made by Panda Bear, you know music made by HUMANS!), a mix of a looped piano and beats that sound like they came of Thom Yorke's equally visionary The Eraser, with a vocal that's clear and easily understood. It's at this point that Noah begins to sound a lot like Brian Wilson, the sweet naivety mixed with an obvious knowledge of his genius, the simple echo and doubled studio tracks. After this second passage a stomping soul riff drifts in for the third and final section, a mix of northern soul and 60's surf. I know I keep mentioning it but this section especially could have been taken straight off Pet Sounds.
When you hear the thick, full sound of the record it's hard to believe that it was made with just Lennox's voice, two BOSS Dr Sample 303's and a bunch of old records. The samples used have been the source of much debate, diehard Animal Collective fans studying and disecting the record like it was a piece of historical evidence. It is believed that a majority of the album is constructed from a selection of Joe Meek produced Tornados songs, 'Red Roses And A Sky Of Blue' contains the main riff that runs throughout the majority of 'Bros' and 'Popeye Twist' is used for the second, more upbeat half of 'Take Pills'.*
Overall the album is a dual purpose product, you can either give your full concentration and study every nook and cranny, or you can just let it drift straight over you. It really is bliss to just sit and listen to this record and be taken away from life for 45 minutes and 36 seconds. It never gets old and this blissful feeling never dwindles, beleive me I've listened to it through three times while writing this blog and I still feel it the same as the first time.
Put simply, it's a modern symphony. If there's any justice, Panda Bear will be looked at in a centuries time as a visionary and a genius. He is our generations shining light, our own little genius.
Here's the new video for 'Comfy In Nautica':
And an old one for 'Bros':
And a live version of 'Bros' @ Upset The Rhythm, Spitz in London:
Click on the titles of the tracks in the review for an mp3. These mp3's are strictly for sampling purposes only and will be removed in 30 days. If you like them, go buy the record. I suggest you get the vinyl, it has amazing fold out artwork.
Person Pitch is out now on Paw Tracks
Buy it here