Review Summary: down where?
I don’t get it. Maybe I’m looking in all the wrong places, but Avey Tare’s Down There
seems like an exhausting musical venture into the occult, dominated by odd textures and contorted vocals. He’s done this sort of thing before in the Collective, but therein lies the problem - he’s failing to paint from a palette that parts himself from Animal Collective in a positive light. What’s being attempted here is obviously darker in atmosphere than your typical Animal Collective tune, sure, but the departure doesn’t seem significant enough. Duly noting this, there are still some enjoyable moments scattered throughout; the only problem is that these moments are often short segments within aimless tracks. If anything, Down There
acts as a blatant statement that Avey Tare simply cannot operate the way he wishes to outside of Animal Collective.
Opening track “Laughing Hieroglyphic” suggests great promise as it dabbles into the unknown. Avey manipulates an odd organ piece and repeatedly hits what sounds like tin cans. The song moves along in this pattern before a series of keys are randomly struck, leading it in favor of a more paranoid feel with a looped synthesizer being distorted and skipped. Its quirky nature falsely leads the listener to believe that the rest of the album will be as interesting, but it most certainly falls very, very short. Admittedly, proceeding track “3 Umbrellas” is interesting because it boasts the same morbid sounding synthesizer from “Laughing Hieroglyphic”, and ‘Oliver Twist”’s brooding beat and gritty atmosphere make it feel akin to Burial’s approach to music. Unfortunately, from here on out the album is mostly devoid of substance and creativity. The next couple of songs fly by without much notice. “Glass Bottom Boat” feels like a filler track that should have been turned into an interlude and “Ghost of Books” is far too minimal for its own good and annoys with Avey’s childish lulling. It’s not until the latter half of “Heather in the Hospital” that things start to pick up and spark interest again. The first half of the song feels somewhat unnecessary, but the last two minutes make it rise to the surface for a breath of fresh air. It’s bubbly in the way that Memoryhouse’s songs are. But we’re quickly jutted downwards again with the unbelievably dry closer “Lucky 1”, which takes a nose dive into a swamp of mediocrity. It lazily trudges along with fuzz as Avey Tare delivers a painfully dull, uninspired vocal performance.
There’s a fine line between obscurity and creativity and Avey Tare has straddled it up until this point, but this time he’s gone off the deep end and is now reveling in the shallow depths of the murky waters he treads. Perhaps he’s simply more well-suited in an actual band than humoring his idle fancies. At the end of the day, Avey’s solo debut is mostly inoffensive, but those partial to Animal Collective’s sound and/or Panda Bear’s solo outing will do well to seek those out and avoid this album. Certain ideas do stick, but overall it just seems like a down-trodden affair that’s lifeless at times; a sure party for the narcoleptic. All in all, it’s really not that much fun Down There