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Terrestrial Tones - Dead Drunk

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Artist: Terrestrial Tones

Album: Dead Drunk

Label: Paw Tracks

Review date: Mar. 9, 2006

What to make of Animal Collective? For their whoops, costumes and infantile flights o’ fancy, some have embraced them and some have derided them. Between 2004’s Sung Tongs and last year’s Feels, they’ve gotten a lot of attention. Between the poles, others have noticed something a bit spooky about them, a milky death vibe that doesn’t quite wash out of the ears when the records, particularly Sung Tongs, are over. And it makes me wonder. What if, the next time you hear an Animal Collective record wafting through a speaker, you take that speaker and, while it’s still connected, force it into a wood-chipper? What would that sound like?

If nothing else, it’ll let you know how Dead Drunk -- the latest collaboration from key Animal Collective member Dave Portner (Avey Tare) and his long-time roommate, Eric Copeland of the popular noise outfit Black Dice -- might sound on the first spin if you’re not a noise addict. (If you are a noise addict, I don’t think I need to run through Dead Drunk with you because I know you’re already into much cooler, heavier shit, and trust me, this record will bore you to conniptions.)

Between Portner’s goofy vocalizations (on “Plowman,” he sounds a lot like the green-hatted gatekeepers in The Wizard Of Oz, and I don’t think he’s going for funny) and Copeland’s gurgling electronic indigestion, Dead Drunk, at first brush, sounds less like chipping wood than it does like trying to unclog a stopped-up sink and hoping the garbage disposal doesn’t catch on fire. It’s a mess, but not enough to justify calling a plumber or troubling a real connoisseur of messes.

And then… holy shit, is this funky. After 1:37 or so’s worth of spacey vamping, “The Sailor” sees Copeland drop into a pattern that sounds like dub reverb mixed with playground reverb, and Portner drops an infectious, if unintelligible, falsetto flow. After “The Sailor” emerges as the Residents and Throbbing Gristle gone pop (And at the exact same moment! Goddamn!), the whole album, on repeated listens, gets a lot more friendly. If a couple of those serious New Zealand drone mavens came back and decided to score a particularly dumbass puppet show, they might come up with something like “Gargoyle.”

Dead Drunk on the whole could be taken as noise music, noise music with none of the brutality and half the imagination. The only genuine cruelty happens on “Future Train,” which cycles an infernal sound, which I kept thinking was someone’s god-awful ringtone, way on top of its burbling mix.

Copeland’s cold buzz and flicker strip Portner of his Burning Man affectations and brings him closer to Thanatos, which, if you listen to Animal Collective in a certain way, ain’t a bad place for him. And Portner’s sense of fun calls on Copeland to resurrect some of the majestic mischief so prevalent Black Dice’s 2003 classic Beaches and Canyons and so sorely missed since.

By Emerson Dameron

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