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Live Review: Animal Collective & Africa Hitech

23 January 2013 | 4:22 pm | Brad Barrett

The set was intricately played, but encouraged minimum movement.

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Africa Hitech - aka duo Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek – consumed the voluminous Enmore Theatre with photon bass, barely absorbed by the sparse, early-bird audience of static bodies. Their set was stitched together like a DJ playlist, with no glimpse of seams, and mutated as if alive and leaping gene pools. Pole vaulting from bass-heavy to skittery drum'n'bass and 2-step-inspired electronica, it really did sound like they'd brought the alleyway clubs of Fulham to Sydney; so much so that this audience was at a loss for what to do. London audiences reach for the skies and pound the ground with both feet, while the lost kids of Sydney swayed uncertainly to an alien wash of sound. Not the reaction these two scintillating scientists deserved, though they were accepted and appreciated by the end.

Animal Collective decided to draw heavily from last year's Centipede Hz, which is a calamitous descent into hyperactive clatter pop with the usual frayed sonic edges. So, while the energy of Panda Bear's distinctive flow was consistently impressive, the spacious, off-kilter music dragged rather than inspired. Compared to the full-on rave blitz that the Deacon-less trio pulled off a few years back, it fell flat. Yet it was Deacon's lead number from that record, Wide Eyed, which pulled away from meandering scattershot songs to something of weight and spirit, anchored by stuttering percussive sounds and brooding melodies. A momentary dip into 2009 left Lion In A Coma sounding like a mere feathery dusting of spring-loaded bongos. Brief redemption arrived upon the excellent squeals of Monkey Riches, whose rippling synthesised bleats recalled AC at their very best. Brother Sport and My Girls soared as expected, as much for the crowd reaction as the performance. The set was intricately played, but encouraged minimum movement. It's a tough thing to greet invention with disappointment, but while self-indulgence can be admired, it can't always be danced to and frankly that's what some of us had come to do.