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It was hard enough watching Animal Collective's "visual album" ODDSAC and coming up with a review of a movie that stretched the boundaries of narrative, logic and terror. But then the next day I actually sat down to interview some of the smartest guys in the music business, and the director, Danny Perez, who helped them put together a visual album that, in a strange way, fits perfectly with the sonic collages the band has created.
They wouldn't tell me how they created some of the more mysterious sounds heard in the film, or how some of the fascinating visual tricks were achieved, but we did talk about how the film reflects the band's musical evolution over the past few years, and how their collaboration changes when working with a director like Perez. Absent Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear), band members Josh Dibb (Deakin), David Portner (Avey Tare) and Brian Weitz (Geologist) talked with Perez about the role humor played in the film, their place within the crumbling music industry, and just how much of their visual album they actually want you to understand. I started by asking them how often they call each other by their famous nicknames-- mostly because I was just curious if you can call a guy you've known 20 years "Panda Bear."
I'm not a music critic or an expert on Animal Collective by any means, but i was interested in how they thought the sound of ODDSAC fit into their album-only work, especially given the four years it took to make the movie. "I've never seen us as having a linear trajectory," Portner explained. "I think it fits in musically with, in a certain sense, what we've done recently. There are similarities, but I also think it's something completely different. It stands on its own. It's a different beast altogether. Especially sonically I'd say."
And while the band never put the film together with the idea of using it as a way to sell their music in an era of digital downloads, Weitz admitted there's that angle to it as well. "When we put out our last few albums, our record label was like, it'd be great if we could package it with a pint glass, or something to actually get people to buy it. Now fans expect something more than music. Even our friends said something about this film, 'Is that why you did it, to offer something more than just music?' That was never part of the conversation." The idea is to present ODDSAC as one entire film, without releasing a separate soundtrack, but Portner recognizes the realities of the situation: "I'm sure people will rip the audio anyway and just be able to listen to it." ODDSAC premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week, and will be making its way to screenings in New York and Chicago in March (click here for detailed information). In the meantime, watch my 20-minute interview with Perez and the band below. I promise, for a movie like ODDSAC, there is no such thing as spoilers.