Fans of Animal Collective are well aware of their penchant for psychaedelic imagery to bring out their musical eccentricites.
Oddsac, described as a “visual album,” sees director Danny Perez apply that aesthetic to an hour-long look down the experimental band's kaleidoscope.
It's a playfully dappled world, fascinated by nature - but warped by unsettling characters who lurk in the background and wreak surreal havoc.
Premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, the film is the culmination of four years’ work between the quartet and Perez, who previously directed the video for Who Could Win A Rabbit.
Musically it splits into roughly eight tracks, all unreleased but fitting in comfortably with Strawberry Jam and their biggest critical success Merriweather Post Pavilion – the film’s gestation period straddling both albums plus a couple of EPs.
So for casual fans of Animal Collective’s recent work it’s at the very least an aural treat (though only a few of the songs would easily stand alone), and another dimension on the band’s evolution in the second half of the noughties.
But those trying to make sense of the visuals will probably be disappointed.
There’s little sense of perspective or plot until the second half, when costumed and painted figures, probably best described as surreal monks, taunt first a family sat around a campfire, and later a group of girls holding a painting party.
These excursions are the only narrative arc to interpret what feels like a lo-fi vampire flick throughout, other than occasional nods provided by lyrics like “never try the simple thing” and “grandma used to love how you play.”
Cinematic parallels range from David Lynch and horror to the sort of macabre humour for which British director Chris Cunningham is famed, though none of the above are allowed to linger, keeping Oddsac’s deliberately woozy flow intact.
Recently Panda Bear said the film was an attempt to capture what the listener might see if they close their eyes while listening to Animal Collective, which is surely the best way to approach the film.
Unbelievers might find it a confusing assault, but the Collective's faithful will have feast on Oddsac, and embrace it as the immersive experience the band are aiming to create.
Oddsac is showing at London's ICA on May 13th, the Mint Lounge in Manchester on 14th and Leeds' Brudenell Social Club on 15th. Animal Collective will also play a DJ set at the London date.
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