Fucking in the Streets
Animal Collective's ODDSAC
Last week, the Egyptian Theatre hosted two screenings of Animal Collective and director Danny Perez's new "visual album" ODDSAC, a kind of psychedelic, B-horror art film featuring 54 minutes of new music by the band.
The film alternates between abstract audio/visual passages and little, loosely narrative episodes. A sequence cutting between some fire dancers out in the woods and a girl inside a house smearing black ooze all over a white, patterned wall includes the film's most artful juxtaposition, as the girl's fingers trace white lines in the black ooze that almost perfectly mirror the white trails made in the dark by the fire dancers. There's a David Lynch–ian dude draped in red cloth, face caked with fake age, mouth moving but emitting only backward-masked, asynchronous speech. There's an abstract sequence in which a white background fills with blue and pink squiggles that slowly go black and white and begin to resemble a swarm of bats (your Rorschach results may vary here). A guy whose head seems made entirely of long hair drags a drum kit piece by piece out into an expansive rocky clearing in the woods then starts banging out a loud, simple beat.
Next, a Nosferatu-style vampire lurks in the dark while a family of campers roasts marshmallows; as they begin to eat them, the film delivers its most inspired no-budget horror segment—Suspiria bad-trip gore by way of "chubby bunny." The film ends with four women in a house, staged as if for a cooking show, cracking eggs and handling flour while a red-faced, white-haired humanoid hovers over and yells at them; the scene devolves into sinister anxiety and then into an ecstatically silly food fight.
Overall, the film offers a lot of textural action—ooze is weird, water is weird, hair is weird, etc.—and an emphasis on effects. Things are playfully gory at points, but there's barely a trace of sexuality—this is essentially a G-rated, psychedelic horror film. Stan Brakhage is one probable influence, as is Matthew Barney—although ODDSAC is both less odd and less concerned with sacs than The Cremaster Cycle. Lynch is probably a better reference point, not only for the Twin Peaks move of mining psychic, pseudomythic terror from the woods, but also for the film's use of sudden loud sounds and fast strobing cuts to induce almost physiological responses.
Musically, the biggest surprise were a couple genuine, later-period Animal Collective pop-song sketches mixed in with all the ambient drones, tribal rhythmic loops, found sounds, and synthesizer oscillations.
After the film, Perez and AC members Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin answered audience questions. Perez spoke in an almost unintelligible mumble, saying something about "the juxtaposition of horror and bliss," watching Sex and the City on a turbulent airplane, and trailing off about "...just generally outside of the box, I guess." The guys from Animal Collective had more sober, and potentially sobering, insights: They have no plan to release any of this music apart from the film, although "some melodies may work their way into live sets"; Deakin is still part of the band and was never considered to have left; there are no definitive plans to record another Animal Collective album.