Saturday, April 17, 2010

ODDSAC: A Visual Album by Animal Collective and Danny Perez

A couple weeks ago I went to a screening of Oddsac, the visual album just released by the band Animal Collective. Following the screening there was a short question and answer session, which proved to be more confusing than the film itself (intoxicated 18 year olds don’t always ask the best questions!). Animal Collective is a band known for its experimental music and more so its presentation of said music. The band’s live shows are consistently full of color, chaos, and craziness. I went into the film knowing that I was about to view an array confusing and dizzying images and my gut feelings were correct!

The film in its entirety is fifty three minutes, however we only saw about twenty five to thirty minutes of it. While at times highly amusing, I found the portion we saw to be completely unoriginal. Every scene seemed to rip off of someone else's idea. For example, for many scenes in the movie, one of the band members is dressed up in an outfit that was screaming Matthew Barney’s Cremaster loud and clear. The films as a whole has a very dark feel to it. It starts with a woman trying desperately to stop a wall that seems to be gushing out tar from it, followed by several scenes featuring vampires, and a family camping trip gone awry when the family members mouths turn into marshmallows and all is doomed. If you like Animal Collective, like I do, I would suggest closing your eyes for the middle part of the film in which a series of unrecognizable images are mashed and mixed together for ten minutes with an after affect of nausea and confusion. There is a lot of struggle amongst the characters that gives the film some sense of cohesiveness and as Perez said in the question and answer session after in which he revealed he wanted the viewer to feel extreme discomfort, you definitely had a sense of frustration as you viewed certain scenes.

Photo courtesy of Animal Collective

The final scene of the film was my favorite and definitely the most playful and exciting portion. The music at this point moving from a slow and steady beat moved into typical Animal Collective overdrive as unrecognizable sounds shot through the theater and you could sense a jump in audience energy. The scene features a monster like creature and four girls who are baking, the baking soon turns into a massive food fight, while a new animal collective song in the background sings, “I just want you to dance”. The camera slowly pans away as the music slows down but the food fight commences and the film ends on a positive and upbeat note.

The idea of a visual album I think is an interesting one. Surely not all bands interpretation of visual album would be quite the visual explosion that animal collective produced for its fans. In terms of representing music with images it reminded me of Kandinsky’s insistence of linking colors to music and sounds. Without the music the film would just seem like an experimental flop, but the music coinciding with the film makes for an interesting experience, one I am glad I was able to be a part of.

As for the name of the film, Oddsac, the members of Animal Collective revealed the deep meaning behind it. Apparently a discussion was had in which there was no name for when you get a pack of gummy bears and the majority of bears are stuck together in a clumpy mass. So there you have it, Oddsac.


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