Centipede HZ finds itself in a strange place between Animal Collective’s older work and the ever-increasing reliance on synths, samples and other electronic paraphernalia.
I don't know about anyone else, but I've been waiting for this album with more than a bit of anticipation. It's been three years since Merriweather Post Pavilion, a fantastic album that nevertheless marked the exit of long-time collaborator Deakin (aka Josh Dibb) and a markedly different, more synth-oriented sound for the band. Now, with Deakin back and a newfound energy that has been converted into the will to once again “jam and sweat while actually playing instruments,” Animal Collective are back at it again.
Centipede HZ starts with typical Animal Collective fanfare; Moonjock sets up Avey Tare's inimitable vocals, which frame the whole album, while the band as a whole employ a much more straightforward and less ambient dynamic. Clean, rhythmic drum work and jangly guitars ride through the usual spacey, weird samples. In fact, it could be argued that there are more samples on here than on Merriweather…, they just find less time to breathe between the fuller sound of the whole record. Second track Today's Supernatural – also the first single – is by far a standout and the ultimate expression of the collective's new ground, with awesome tribal drumbeats and Tare belting out over a harpsichord. It's like Golden Brown being recited while on a Peyote trip in the harsh Mexican desert. On the flip, Applesauce and Amanita hit the closest thing the band has had to indie-dance music for a while.
Centipede HZ finds itself in a strange place between Animal Collective's older work and the ever-increasing reliance on synths, samples and other electronic paraphernalia. What sets this band apart from the pretenders, though, is the technical aptitude and passion for actually using these elements dynamically.