For the better part of the last decade, Animal Collective has been one of those era defining bands. Assembling the many variants of their electronic endeavours into sonic shapes and forms that rebuff definition, the Brooklyn-based quartet took what it meant to be ‘avant-garde’ and ‘esoteric’ and cloaked it with a digital debris of fractured aural illusions that appeared to have been arranged – as much as they could have been fully understood by the listener – with lights off.
But with every lysergic trip that Animal Collective offer throughout their back catalogue, there are odd, sober moments of clarity beyond their augmented interface and creative inhibitions – and ‘Campfire Songs’ is a perfect example of that. A reissue of their 2003 release, ‘Campfire Songs’ is something of a point of origin for the ever-evolving outfit. Elemental, organic and acoustic, the resulting five tracks are half-sung, half-hummed, half-heard, half-played, half-recorded; strung together wholeheartedly with a ruminating thread that naturally draws together a stripped-back and restrained porch doorstep psychedelic sound in comparison to its successors.
‘Queen Is My Pictures’ crackles, broods and builds with every languid thrum, as the album opens with natural, earthly white noise. Fizzing with life, the track unveils the bashful allure of surreptitiously placed vocals flickering like candlelight. They rise and fall into earshot, building with the natural grace of a sudden storm, before dissipating into the playful ‘Doggy’.
‘Campfire Songs’ continues to warm and reach out with every plaintive pulsation, hugging the conscious whilst freeing the latent, the album offers at best a calming, sanctuary for the mind; at worst, an acid flashback.
‘Campfire Songs’ is as affecting as much as it can be ignored amongst their electronic arsenal, but it sees Animal Collective at their most unchallenging, unpretentious and intuitive, with something that is far warmer and inviting the binary code that currently kindles their success.