In an audacious move, Animal Collective's follow-up to their hugely successful Merriweather Post Pavilion is not actually a record - it's a film directed by Danny Perez accompanied by a soundtrack written and performed by the band. The film, ODDSAC, is being called a "visual album" -- recalling, of course, Pink Floyd's The Wall -- and screened last night at the Egyptian. Perez appeared at the screening, along with band members Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin to do a Q&A. Here are some facts they gave us about the film:
Adriano Fegundes Animal Collective's ODDSAC will not be available as a record - only as a DVD.
-- The band first started talking about making a concept film about four years ago on a drive to Seattle.
-- The film's strong horror elements are partially inspired by some of the band's favorite films, like The Shining and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
-- Most of ODDSAC was filmed at an estate with a castle in upstate New York - although all of the scenes with the castle actually in them ended up getting cut.
-- Some of Perez's ideas were deemed "too crazy" to film - for instance, one of the first things he wanted to film was teenagers in a car crash, with "girls flailing out of a limo." That got vetoed.
-- The budget for the film ended up being around $65K.
-- Finally, the name ODDSAC came from some conversation the band had about gummy candy, but "we just liked the way it looked basically."
ODDSACitself is essentially 52 minutes of your worst nightmares come to life.
The opening sequence shows a troupe of invisible flame twirlers led by a man made entirely of pink sparkles dancing in the pitch-black night as a buzzing synthesizer hums and shudders, apocalyptic bass vocals sound, and a timpani heart-stoppingly begins to thud in rhythm with the action onscreen. You really need to brace yourself to watch this. And let's be honest - if you're not on drugs, you're not going to like a lot of this film. ODDSAC is disturbing, but it's my hope that other bands will follow suit in exploring different media mediums as an output for their music. The visual elements of this film hugely heightened the emotion of Animal Collective's music - they turned the simple act of listening to a CD into a tangible and certainly memorable experience. Other key scenes include:
-- A human figure coated in black slime writhes on a floor.
-- A moon-faced little girl states, "He hates chocolate; he hates everything but green beans."
-- A Beach Boys-sounding vocal melody plays as a vampire (played by Deakin) with a pasty white face and a round bald forehead canoes through a shimmering river by moonlight.
-- A family marshmallow roast turns into a horrifying mass murder (children's bloody brains are ripped out and eaten).
-- And, in my favorite and the most epic scene, a sloppily clad figure who resembles a white-haired Rob Zombie (although we never seen his face) painstakingly sets up a drum kit in a riverbed in the middle of a very Northwestern-looking wilderness and just starts thrashing away.
Most of the music in ODDSAC reminded me of the first time my best friend played Fever Ray for me. Percussion boomed, instruments reverbed, vocals howled. After a few minutes, I turned to her and said, "Dude. This music is scary."
It's nonetheless monumental and hands-down the best stuff I've heard from Animal Collective yet. There aren't any "My Girls"-style catchy hits, but ODDSAC doesn't need the radio. It's got its own movie.
Check out the freaky ODDSAC trailer.