Review Summary: Sleepytime techno from the experimental veterans
Animal Collective’s new EP, Bridge to Quiet, is one of the most muted releases of theirs to date. Whereas previous albums showcased sensory overload-inducing electronica, trippy folk, or bright, child-like rock, their new effort is submerged in a deep atmospheric murk. Avey Tare’s previously raucous yelp is reduced to a soft mumble, giving room for more exploratory jams to come out from the darkness. While it’s neither perfect nor a crucial release for the group, Bridge to Quiet sees AnCo evolving away from the club and towards the chill-out room – a move with mixed yet interesting results.
The first few minutes of “Rain in Cups” brings this sonic shift to the forefront. Mechanical noises linger in the mix with dubby percussion and a deep hum recalling the introduction to “The Softest Voice” from Sung Tongs (an interesting juxtaposition given that record’s radically different style). The track progresses over eight relaxed minutes, with a drumbeat that suggests a more visceral dance track in a room adjacent to the listener’s perspective. While I wasn’t initially impressed given the song’s runtime and nearly two-minute intro, its sound design and atmosphere are impressive and undeniably a highlight for the project.
“Piggy Knows” starts off much the same as the previous song, with a lengthy drone, only to break into an upbeat percussion-centric effort. Despite being more energetic, its repetitiveness leads to diminishing returns and the feeling that the track would be more effective with a shorter runtime. To that end, “Sux-Bier Passage” seems particularly unnecessary – it drones on for eight minutes but never leaves the narcotic atmosphere that prefaced the first two tracks, instead choosing to remain in a permanent state of languor. Whereas previous EP interludes such as “Bleed” and “Baleen Sample” felt meaningful and remained taut despite their ambient nature, “Passage” never goes in any particular direction at all. Fortunately, the title track redeems the back half of the EP. This song feels the most fully “awake” of the four on this project, with a more propulsive rhythmic backing amid the atmospheric modular synth and guitar soundscapes.
While “Bridge to Quiet” is an interesting listen, the group’s emphasis on atmosphere over focus often detracts from the project’s potential. All four songs suffer from lengthy ambient opening sections, which often feel unnecessary and redundant. Had it been fleshed-out and condensed, this EP would present a more compelling case for the group’s new sonic direction. It is most successful when this atmosphere is paired with quality songwriting, like a slowed-and-reverbed take on Merriweather Post Pavilion’s sonics. Hopefully, the group’s next release will venture further down this avenue but with a more fully-realized effort in tow.
Digging: Government - Shitshitshit [japanese death poem]
Album Rating: 4.0
Thank you for reviewing this but i have to disagree. I think this is sublime, and does exactly what it needs to in its murky atmospheric darkness.
Digging: M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Album Rating: 2.5
Fair enough! I think some of the ideas here (particularly in the sound design) are promising, and I hope that they continue doing this. I just wish there was more development in the songs themselves.
i want these guys to make good music again so badly
Album Rating: 3.0
I was so excited for this but sorely disappointed. Still enjoy it more than their last LP.
Album Rating: 2.0
Painting With was so bad that I made a mental note to discontinue checking new AnCo material tbh. Shoulda listened to myself.
Digging: Goldie Boutilier - Very Best
Album Rating: 3.5
Piggy Knows slaps
Digging: Pinegrove - Amperland, NY
I loved CHz, and liked PW, but I don't think this band knows who they are anymore. They had their commercial breakthrough with MPP, and have been floundering ever since. Sad, because their 'identity crisis' phase now makes up more than half of their career
Their output ever since MPP (or Fall Be Kind ep) has been consistently dogshit Imo. They should have hung it up at the end of the 00s. They have put out some good solo stuff tho, so that's something
Disagree. CHz is fire, and PW is an album that really does it for me if I'm in the mood. That is quite rarely though. Kinda like that once or twice a year where candyfloss actually looks appetising
I dream about the day Animal Collective brings and astound us again with another masterpiece.
But pre-MPP they were a stronger band for sure, and so much more prolific. An amazing album a year basically. Now it is more like a good album every 4 years
Yeah they used to so exciting, I always looked forward to hearing more. Haven't felt that way in over a decade now. I just can't get into Centipede deapite trying many times
CHz just nails its chaotic, pixelated, early-internet, radiowaves-from-earth-chopped-and-scrambled-by-alien-lifeforms aesthetic so damn well. Every inch of that record is garish and deep fried and weird, and the songs themselves I find to be an absolute joy. Some of their most memorable melodies and atmospheres.
Really a one of a kind record. I wish I could somehow explain it in a way where you could hear what I hear. I mean, we are hearing the same splatter of technicolor nonsense, but I go right ahead and slap a 4.5 on it.
I don't know if PW is an easier or a harder sell? It's basically them hocketing a bunch of Nickelodeon songs haha. Really the most playful, fingerpainty, childlike, Animal Collective-y of their albums. I kinda think of it as like Sung Tongs but digital. It is either infuriating or delightful, depending on my mood.
Not one of my favorite releases from them, but definitely far from being a bad album and I respect it for what it is, and I understand how interesting it can be for people. Wide Eyed is dope af
Just skimmed PW on Spotify and yep, I really like it. Vocals, beats, and melodies shooting around the sonic picture like fireworks and pieces of brightly coloured lego. Super fun to listen to them form Escher-esque semblances of songs, if you can be bothered
Would definitely rather listen to Feels or Strawberry Jam though
Yeah Wide Eyed is a stunner
Album Rating: 3.5
I did like this one but I can’t say I get excited about this lot any more.
I need to give Painting With another listen someday, but I remember liking the Painters EP more than that album except for Floridada which was actually quite a good silly and fun Psych Pop tune.
that profile gif is creeping me up man