Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Down There - Avey Tare

Down There

Avey Tare
Paw Tracks Records.

SCQ Rating: 77%

This past summer - around the time Animal Collective unveiled a suspiciously late video for ‘Guys Eyes’ – I read a tweet that said, and I quote:

Dear Animal Collective, I still like you so please disappear for two years. Let me miss you. Sincerely, Ryan

Okay so it was me, but I meant it from the heart. The only shadow greater than 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion appeared to be its influence, helping spawn the figureheads of chill-wave while bolstering other acts to embrace the polished electronic leanings of modern psychedelia. Really, who needed a reminder of Animal Collective's impossible standard eighteen months after Merriweather Post Pavilion, when so much of the indie landscape was finally churning out their interpretations of the AC style? I’d heard, seen and read enough so I did what any determined visionary would: I tweeted about it.

Funny then, that none of these Merriweather-dizzy publications shouted from the rooftops over how enjoyable Avey Tare's Down There is. Sure, one magazine proposed that David Portner’s official (as in non-reversed, Kria Brekkan-excluded) solo debut closely followed the proven template laid down on Animal Collective’s most undisputed masterpiece, while another webzine prized Down There with the backhanded compliment of having shown all the chill-wavers “how it’s done”. Bizarre. Just because Avey Tare’s songwriting has contributed greatly to Animal Collective’s influence over young indie bands doesn’t mean he deserves to be grouped in with them, and both shortsighted assertions had me double-checking my Down There tracklisting (not to mention a calendar that dates back further than the chilly Summer Of Love, 2009).

In a move that should feel refreshing to any longtime AC fan, Down There tracks its ancestry from the suddenly out-of-sight, out-of-mind period that spawned Strawberry Jam and Water Curses EP, assuming the former’s disembodied electronic beats and the latter’s watery disposition. Elastic-snapped beats surge ‘Laughing Hieroglyphic’ with an off-axis rhythm to counter Portner’s plodding keys and, although elsewhere he wisely takes on 4/4 beats with ‘Oliver Twist’, most percussion plays sparse and cutting across several eerie (read: airy) compositions. Most stimulating of all is Down There’s sense of mystique, its willingness to confound and refusal to go technicolor with the rainbow’s array of grab-me dynamics that Merriweather Post Pavilion employed. For fans exhausted of Animal Collective’s recent crest of maximized anthems, Down There finds Avey Tare’s songwriting gifts tending to far more introverted gems.

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