Review Summary: Get your eyes on the prize (wiping the burrito off the windshield).Tangerine Reef
is not for the impatient. Nor is it for the audience cultivated over the past ten years who had grown attached to Animal Collective's high susceptibility to pop hooks and Wilsonesque craftiness, albeit with a great sense of restraint in regards to the "wacky" factor a lot of their music tends to have. Tangerine Reef
is for the people who had been waiting for the "experimental" Collective to make their return. After a long slew of records that found them conflicted between arena-worthy anthems and messy, abstract rock, often these albums found the band at a divide creatively. But what is being forgotten about the Collective's latest album is the fact the album stemmed from live improvisations; furthermore, it accompanies a film that goes harkens back to the 2010 effort Oddsac
, which followed the same concept of an album first and foremost being the soundtrack to a series of visuals.
It's very wonderful to see the band, now without Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) for the very first time, return to this murky realm of distorted electronics, hollow drones and indecipherable vocalizations and not turn in a work derivative of anything else they had done before, lest we discovered the band felt it necessarily to record a faithful followup to the mediocre product that was 2016's Painting With
. Whereas that was regarded by the band to be their "pop" album, inspired by the blazing quick lengths of what the Ramones' songs were, Tangerine Reef
really comes across as their "ambient" album, taking a great deal of inspiration from the sound of Ohr-era Tangerine Dream (Zeit
, from 1972, really shines through as a major influence on a number of songs) and Klaus Schulze's Cyborg
The experience Tangerine Reef
offers is, for a lack of a better word, sublime. Whatever one takes from it is quite varied, as already seen so far, and personally, it's a vastly introspective and ponderous record that I haven't seen nor heard from the band in ages, a direction that they haven't taken in well over a decade - and actually committed to for an entire record's duration. There's something beautiful in these glacial compositions, the way the trio (Avey, Deakin and Geo) just fully immerse themselves in this dark and lonely ambient improvisation and never
at any point let themselves become lost within the depths of the reef. Despite it being an album of thirteen songs, all quite similar in mood, the work itself is a monolithic singular piece stitched together, much like a extended ambient soundscape or an art installation piece.
There are no harmonies, no hooks, no anthems, nor anything remotely accessible to be found in the audiovisual experience and falls more in line with the equally-introverted Sleep Cycle
, a solo effort from Deakin, who returned after an absence on Painting With
, and truly feels like the long-lost bastard cousin of earlier Collective albums, such as Danse Manatee
, although with a more refined and textural sheen in comparison to the lo-fi abrasiveness of the band's infancy. Tangerine Reef
takes what seems like a lifetime and a half to finally sink in, its dirge-like pace and melancholic self-reflection making it greatly impenetrable and very close to meandering, although it thankfully falls short of actually becoming as indulgent as it could potentially be. It's not necessarily a masterpiece nor was it ever meant to be a grand statement that'd capture everyone's attention; a low-key unveiling is more fitting, for it's the Collective's return to form, except in a way that nobody expected.