When it came time for a new al­bum, An­i­mal Col­lec­tive de­cided to keep it sim­ple – they got to­gether in a barn, turned ev­ery­thing up loud and jammed for a week. “We took ev­ery­thing to the sixth gear,” they tell Jim Car­roll

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Weekly Guide To Entertainment -

Sam­sara pro­ducer Mark Magid­son talks cult sights and sounds with Tara Brady, p10

THIS TIME, An­i­mal Col­lec­tive de­cided to bring it all back home. This time, un­like pre­vi­ous al­bums Mer­ri­weather Post Pavilion or Straw­berry Jam, the band would cre­ate the new al­bum with all four of them to­gether in the same room.

In­stead of email­ing ideas back and forth, the band, close friends since they first met at schools in Bal­ti­more in the 1990s, gath­ered in a barn out the back of Josh Dibb’s mother’s house and be­gan to play.

“We just jammed and im­pro­vised for a week,” ex­plains Dibb. “We didn’t come in with any clear songs so we just de­cided to get go­ing, jam and start to make sense of the sonic land­scape we would be deal­ing with.

“Pretty quickly, some things be­came clear from how Noah was play­ing his drums and the en­ergy from that. I was play­ing gui­tar a lot again and Dave was play­ing his key­boards in a way which was a lot wilder than it has been for a while. By the end of the week, we had a sense about what we were go­ing to do.”

Over the course of nine stu­dio al­bums and a sprawl­ing set of solo re­leases and side projects, An­i­mal Col­lec­tive have never re­peated them­selves. It means they’ve fol­lowed up the warm, hazy elec­tronic breezes of the ac­claimed Mer­ri­weather Post Pavilion with an al­bum of cranked-up gui­tar ef­fects, rol­lick­ing garage-band jams and wired-to-the-moon way­ward­ness.

In some ways, that new al­bum Cen­tipede Hz is as much a prod­uct of its en­vi­ron­ment as the band’s mind­set go­ing into the barn. “It was such a small space,” re­mem­bers Noah Len­nox. “I mean, we were re­ally close; I could lean over and touch Josh on the shoul­der from where I stood. I think that in­spired the gnarli­ness and vol­ume of the songs. We took ev­ery­thing to the sixth gear.”

“Tak­ing ev­ery­thing to the sixth gear” is a good line to sum up An­i­mal Col­lec­tive’s in­stincts on this oc­ca­sion be­cause Cen­tipede Hz is prob­a­bly the most max­i­mal­ist thing An­i­mal Col­lec­tive have ever put their name to.

When Dibb and Len­nox talk about the process be­hind the al­bum, they paint a pic­ture where there was more, not less, in the mix.

“We knew we wanted to do some­thing which was more per­for­mance­based, play­ing with each other rather than be­ing slaves to the ma­chine as was the case on the last al­bum with loops and se­quences,” says Dibb. “This time, we wanted a di­rect in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the mu­si­cians.

“The way we set up our in­di­vid­ual sound­sta­tions was re­ally com­pli­cated,” adds Len­nox. “Josh had a lot of ef­fects with his gui­tar and sam­ple pad. Dave [Port­ner] split up his sound to have three dif­fer­ent sound ef­fects com­ing from the same in­stru­ment and sig­nal, so one note would make three dif­fer­ent sounds.

“Brian [Weitz] had his sam­ples and the bass which he was work­ing at the same time. My drums had contact mi­cro­phones on each drum which be­came an­ther sound source. Even though there were only four of us play­ing, there was 10 dif­fer­ent sounds be­ing pro­duced. From the get-go, we were go­ing to pro­duce a very dense sound.”

One no­tice­able as­pect of the new al­bum is the way ra­dio noises and sig­nals punc­tu­ate the tracks. Those sounds were partly in­spired by Dave Port­ner’s brother, who was a DJ on a Top 40 sta­tion in Bal­ti­more dur­ing the 1980s.

“I don’t think we were do­ing it in any nos­tal­gic, rem­i­nis­cent way,” says Dibb, “but we were pick­ing up on what ra­dio used to mean to us. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was good ra­dio in Bal­ti­more and it was a source of where to go to find mu­sic.”

“Our con­nec­tion to mu­sic al­ways came via the ra­dio,” adds Len­nox. “We’d lis­ten to clas­sic rock and top-40 sta­tions in high school.”

It’s a dif­fer­ent mat­ter now. “I don’t think ra­dio as I used to know re­ally

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