Sung Tongs by Animal Collective

This came out in 2004, a dry period in my music learning. I was concentrating on my new career or learning how to incorporate computers and other tech into my own creations. I centered on any music encounters with all the mp3s of older albums I discovered on Napster.

This is a top rated album from a band I am not familiar with. Some claim this record to be their best. This was their 5th album since 2000 and they are still around today. There were two guys in this band, but were a quartet. So, maybe this work is not representative of this group overall. They started the record as a side project and later promoted it to an official album. Critics describe their music as experimental pop and akin to prog, until this album, which is described as Holy-Modal-Rounders-slash-Incredible-String-Band. They recorded this record on a Tascam 1/2 inch 8 track tape machine and mixed on a laptop and assembled at one of their mother’s houses. This offering is a double LP version of a single CD. I am going into this with some hesitation. My issue with most double albums that others would call “classic” is I find these too long for a single sitting. At the least, the sides are short, with lots of dead wax and lots of space for fidelity as well.

I am done with the first record. Home recorded, acoustic, heavy on interesting and easy to like visionary vocal harmonies, swell use of stereo. Creative percussion – clapping and, as I understand it, a door – sometimes so up-front to be disarming. The project feels outsider-adjacent in approach. We are not talking slick here. Lots of individuals shy away from exploring this because they have no reference. Mine here is lo-fi indie rock circa 1990, like Sebadoh or Guided By Voices, at least on the surface. Some correlations in my head with Sebadoh Lou’s early tapes, some components of collage, but clearer and less random, but still kinda strange. The song at the end of the first side – “The Softest Voice” – is beautiful and sprawling. In a great Residents kind of way. “Sweet Road,” which rounds up side B with a short little fun song, that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Feelies “Good Earth” LP instead of “When Company Comes.”

I should mention that I wanted to hear more when the first record was over.

I moved right over to the third side and into the odd strummy mumbled piece “Visiting Friends” which is punctuated with odd deep sounds similar to an upstairs neighbor dragging furniture around, yet bassy enough to be a little disturbing. At 12 minutes, this occupies the entire length of this album side. The strangest track on the album may be this one. Yet, given the room given, the piece all becomes quite familiar and warm at the end.

Side D starts with a possible “Our Prayer” reference in the snippet “College” which leads into the cascading & delirious “We Tigers.” I know I will treasure this last album side very much. The last track with the very odd wah vocal thing was especially interesting.

I will need to play this several times to get to know it. I will want to explore this further.