May 3, 2007

Mystery and Intrigue

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Noah Lennox, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee? Who knows. What is certain, however, is that Lennox’s uncanny stream of creative and explorative energy is embedded throughout Person Pitch. The album plays as a sonic journey, a textured portrait of harmonies, instrumentation, looping and random sound sampling that all come out as a wholly gorgeous and enlightening piece. Each track conjures a unique mental and spiritual landscape, taking the discordance of Noah Lennox to a whole new, gorgeous level. The fluidity of the album, along with each track’s clear independence from the whole, creates utterly playable and accessible art.
Apart from his usual outfit Animal Collective, Lennox seems able to explore his capability in a more structured, yet equally intricate musicality. Panda Bear’s first LP, Young Prayer (2004), came soon after the death of Lennox’s father, creating a highly introspective, elegiac composition. Allowing himself to leave that inward sound, Lennox (Panda Bear) makes Person Pitch into a triumphant contrast.
“Comfy in Nautica” begins the album with the sound of muffled industrial machinery clattering away as a crescendo of claps and a chorus of voices rises up to a layered harmony. All the while, the sounds of a speeding racecar and a roaring lion spot the background. It’s a fitting introduction for a record that is so rich with unique explorations of sound.
The album transitions smoothly with the soft, constant sound of a train gliding over the tracks into the double-edged “Take Pills.” Beginning in an almost pre-psychedelic daze, fuzzy guitars, distant vocals and sound bytes of shoes walking over rocks transition subtly into a dance-like, fifties pop song.
Soon thereafter, the absolute highlight of the album comes in the form of the epic that is “Bros.” The track begins with an ever so cool and smooth surf-rock guitar line that seems to float over the punctuating Spanish rhythms. “Bros” is another example of Lennox’s seemingly effortless ability to transform a single song from one theme to another. The track evolves from calmness and easy riding to a constant burst of echoing vocals and haunting guitars that culminates in the fittingly cathartic sound sample of a women crying — the track is incredible. (“Bros” is similar in its rhythms and instrumentation to the absolutely stellar track “Winter’s Love” off of the Shortbus movie soundtrack — a definite must in the Animal Collective archive).
After the chilling “I’m Not,” Panda Bear experiments in the land of semi-electronica with “Good Girl/Carrots.” He certainly pulls it off with a fun mixture of driving drums and circling pianos while finishing out in an array of wind chimes and the calming sounds of a thunderstorm. A fitting end to the journey comes with “Ponytail,” a simple and elegant track that speaks the truth to where Noah Lennox is at this moment in musical space and time: “When my souls stars knowing/ I am as I want to be.” Lennox certainly knows himself and his form. Fortunately, he still remains a wonderful mystery to the rest of us.