Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Animal Collective / Peel Sessions

Prior to its breakthrough album, Sung Tongs, New York experimental rock band Animal Collective was best known for hypnotic performances—"happenings," really—where repetitive percussion and chanting built into moments of transcendence. The live album Hollinndagain captures one of the early shows, from the days before melody was much of a weapon in Animal Collective's arsenal, and the disc primarily proves that some experiences can't be recorded. Hollinndagain's seven songs contain passages where the seemingly random clapping, stomping, clanking, and pounding resolves into something genuinely exciting, as the band discovers a song while it's happening. But even though Animal Collective builds momentum with jagged feedback loops and pulsing whistles, Hollinndagain lacks a cathartic release. Unlike Sung Tongs, this record stays in start-up mode and never gets anywhere.

On the flip side, the four live-in-the-studio tracks on Múm's The Peel Session EP sound so polished that it's hard to believe they were made by human hands. For this 2002 session, the Icelandic glitch-pop band improvised a little on the songs from its debut, Yesterday Was Dramatic—Today Is OK, though Múm mostly stayed clean, layering twinkly machine sounds and pretty chimes, ratcheted up to fever pitch. On "Awake On A Train," the band establishes a click-clack rhythm and follows it into a tight tunnel for about six minutes before breaking into daylight for the final two; on the rest of The Peel Session, Múm creates enveloping sonic environments based on a sound that's like peak hour in a wind-up-toy factory.

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