ODDSAC

by Friday, April 22nd, 2011 12:37pm Part of the Music Films series

There was a time before YouTube, believe it or not, and if you wanted to see clips of your favorite band playing live, you either had to try and bootleg them from the next show you went to, which was not generally encouraged by most bands, or you could buy a concert video.

Most of the music films discussed thus far are fairly easy to classify; they’re either a concert film or a documentary. ODDSAC is neither.

ODDSAC is hard to classify, mainly because it is so utterly obscure. It is not so much a film, as it is pure art. They say the best art brings out a strong reaction in the viewer, whether it is positive or negative, and this film is no different. The whole movie has a surreal feeling to it, as if you are peeking in on someone’s deepest dreams, or nightmares, as it were.

The concept behind this film was to make a “visual album”, that is to say, a close-knit collaboration between musician and film maker to make a visual representation of brand new, never-before-heard Animal Collective material. The guys in Animal Collective did not want to make all the music beforehand, and then bring it to a film maker to fill in the blanks, so to speak. They wanted a true collaboration in the creative process, where the film inspired the music, and the music inspired the film, and that is what they got. The director of the film, Danny Perez, had done a few music videos for Animal Collective, all equally bizarre, and was very familiar with the band’s style of music and influences, so it was an obvious choice for them. Danny Perez, who has done videos for songs such as “Summertime Clothes” and “Who Would Win A Rabbit”, brings a similar style associated with Animal Collective’s music videos to ODDSAC, which gives it that distinct Animal Collective taste and flavoring.

The film doesn’t have any concrete plot, although after multiple viewings, one can draw their own conclusions. It is more of a series of vignettes loosely strung together with random eruptions of color and strange, mystifying imagery than any kind of traditional narrative. But then again, there is nothing traditional about Animal Collective’s music, so what else would you expect? Most of the scenes take place in bizarre landscapes, like a spooky forest haunted by cannibalistic vampires, or a mutated creature playing a drum set in the middle of a rock quarry. Some of the shots are so beautiful and strange that one can not help but wonder if is an actual place being depicted on screen, or if it is some kind of green screen trick, and that is half of the magic of the film.

The other half is the music. Animal Collective’s music has always been considered “avante-garde” and “experimental”, but this is a whole new level of experimentation for them. Only a few tracks on the “visual album” have lyrics, whereas a good majority of the film is instrumental, which is not exactly the norm for Animal Collective. Most people know them for their odd vocal stylings and haunting-yet-somehow-catchy melodies. The film still does has some of that, and the songs that do have lyrics are quite exceptional, but the instrumental music is the real highlight. It is very dramatic and suiting to the mysterious, psychedelic, and sometimes graphic imagery portrayed on screen. The film itself is only about 50 minutes, but time becomes a rather meaningless concept once the film starts. As soon as you are immersed in the ocean of color, sight, and sound that is ODDSAC, your mind is under complete control by Animal Collective.

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