Albums of the Year
You'll know the way / Fading from me
Tangerine Reef is an audiovisual album by Animal Collective in collaboration with Coral Morphologic, an art-science duo and self-professed “pioneers of avant-garde coral macro-videography”. The project commemorates the 2018 International Year of the Reef. On this offering, Animal Collective (here consisting of Avey Tare, Deakin, and Geologist - Panda Bear did not contribute) create languid, organic sound assemblages that might remind of past works Meeting of the Waters (2017), Transverse Temporal Gyrus EP (2012), and ODDSAC (2010). I also hear a direct ancestral tie to Avey's most recent solo work, Eucalyptus (2017), which is one of my favorite albums on the Animal Collective family tree.
These compositions provide an ideal audio accompaniment to a visual project of oceanic themes, because they themselves resemble water. Tracks flow into and out of one another. Errant sounds surface and then quickly fall away. Avey's voice often sounds submerged, as if seeking you out from some murky depth. Like many AC efforts of the last decade, this one is heavy on electronics, synths, and vocal treatments, but here these, too, sound aquatic.
Having listened intently to Animal Collective's expansive and kaleidoscopic output for nearly 20 years, I'm left with an impression that they would never create something that is not a true expression. Theirs is a distinct sound, unapologetically original, and Tangerine Reef is another compelling example of the band's unique fingerprint: this could only be Animal Collective. Simultaneously haunting, ethereal, urgent, and beautiful, it's as strange and endearing a record as any AC have made to date, and it's my favorite album of the year.
Other albums I liked:
Sparkle Hard — Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Double Negative — Low
Grid of Points — Grouper
Split — Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance
Phantom Thread OST — Jonny Greenwood
Suspiria OST — Thom Yorke
A Patient Man — Cult Leader
Penelope Two — Penelope Trappes
Wolf of the Cosmos — Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album — John Coltrane
Any Day — The Sea and Cake
Ashen Blood — Green Druid
Adult Fear — Holy Wave
Magic Ship — Mountain Man