Animal Collective: Tangerine Reef review – desolate and disjointed

(Domino)

The international year of the reef, 2018 has brought us dire headlines from the deep. Still, art-meets-science duo Coral Morphologic – AKA marine biologist Colin Foord and musician JD McKay – manage to find not just beauty but hope among jewel-bright branches in their hypnotic, closeup films. Sadly, the soundtrack to their first full visual album with collaborators Animal Collective is a tougher listen than the news. In search, perhaps, of something more profound than the Beach Boys-haunted lo-fi surrealism of early albums, or the fizzing avant-garde electropop that became their calling card after 2009 breakthough album Merriweather Post Pavilion, AC plumb depths of paucity more than subtlety in this wilfully desolate expanse of dispassionate vocals and vague, awkward ambience.

Buffalo Tomato suggests a gentle, subaquatic Suicide, and Hip Sponge offers some almost energetic woodblock, but mostly Tangerine Reef just drifts, without evoking much sense of its subject. A plant-like animal that is both one and many is a tantalising metaphor for environmental commentary, but the dominant feeling here is of enervated human isolation. The extremely testing central pairing of Coral Understanding and Airpipe (To A New Transition) – a disjointed lurch of reedy wheezes and twitter burbles and wet twangs – suggest something a merman Lou Reed might hand in as an attempt to get dropped from his record label. CM’s images are mesmeric, but it’s hard to imagine why you’d listen to this music on its own, except as the austere punishment our species deserves.

Watch the trailer for Tangerine Reef

Contributor

Emily Mackay

The GuardianTramp

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