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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

“Centipede Hz” provides otherworldy reunion

Whether you relish their obscurity or can’t turn them off fast enough, Animal Collective has been a game-changer for experimental music during the last 10 years.

From their beginning, Animal Collective have pushed the limits for their listeners by blending genres beyond recognition and adhering to no identifiable songwriting formula, while still crafting an unmistakable and original sound.

The group’s earliest records demonstrated their penchant for bending the rules. “Sung Tongs” (2004) utilized mostly just acoustic guitar and tribal drums to melt peoples’ brains, while 2005’s “Feels” built songs around the loops of an deliberately out of tune piano and electric guitar.

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The band, consisting of the aliased members Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) and Geologist (Brian Weitz), found a significantly more mainstream breakthrough with their album “Merriweather Post Pavillion” (2009).

Teaming up with producer Ben Allen, “Merriweather Post Pavillion” showed a much larger audience that a prowess for writing catchy pop hooks was resting beneath their otherworldly surface.

In the wake of their hugely popular album and it’s single “My Girls,” Animal Collective stayed relatively quiet. Avey Tare and Panda Bear both released successful solo albums, but not much was heard from the band as a whole.

In May, Animal Collective announced its ninth studio album, “Centipede Hz” and released the albums first single, “Today’s Supernatural,” via a weekly radio show on the band’s website the following month.

“Centipede Hz” marks the first collaboration of the original four members since 2007’s “Strawberry Jam.”

The group’s fourth member, Deakin (Josh Dibb), left the group briefly in 2007 to take a break from the rigorous touring schedule.

The opening track “Moonjock” brings the listener back into Animal Collective’s familiar sonic territory, with a rush of muffled radio noise and a hollowed-out, crunchy stomp that slowly gives way to cascading vocal harmonies from Portner.

The first songs on the album introduce one of the cooler but less noticeable parts of the album: the ebb and flow of the muffled background noises, which sound like a satellite picking up Bill Nye outtake reels and cosmically fusing them with other weird noises from space. They provide an important texture for the centipede/alien feel that the record unmistakable has.

After another brief intermission of jumbled static, “Today’s Supernatural” allows a less-abrasive, loftier and more danceable moment as Portner howls, “You find something you believe that you should do/sometimes it won’t come so easy/so sometimes you’ve gotta go get mad.”

Extracting literal meaning from an Animal Collective song is on par with transcribing medieval poetry, but it’s there to be found on “Centipede Hz” if you look hard enough.

“Applesauce” is seemingly a light-hearted ode to the pleasures of fruits and veggies, bordering on silliness, but towards the end, Portner sings, “One day maybe I’ll have a cool kid with a granny/ but I don’t have a pose for applesauce on clothes.”

Moments like these on “Centipede Hz” find Animal Collective contemplating their maturity. As a band they’ve released almost a dozen records in some form or another, records that have inspired countless bands to use be bold and experiment with weird sounds.

As adults, some of them have had kids and have briefly stepped away from Animal Collective, but here it seems they’re continuing to explore their identity through their work, and it sounds good.

Not surprisingly, “Centipede Hz” can’t be boiled down to a few suggested tracks to throw on an iPod.

It is a much less blissful and much more sprawling record than their last, which won them such a broad fanbase.

Longtime fans will rejoice in the bands adherance to their trademark sound. With Lennox playing drums throughout the album, and Deakin returning to the electric guitar, there are bountiful layers of rhythm and melody to keep the curious listener interested.

Another notable plus for the band was their creativity involved in the album’s release.

The weekly Internet radio show that previewed and eventually fully revealed the album was innovative and engaging way to connect directly with their fans.

For “Centipede Hz,” which is common with Animal Collective albums, it’s best enjoyed when you let it float by you in an empty space and cling to you however it naturally does.

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