Artist: Animal Collective
Title: Water Curses
Format: 12" Single
Catalogue Number: RUG287T
Year of Release: 2008
A1 Water Curses (3:26)
A2 Street Flash (6:49)
B1 Cobwebs (4:15)
B2 Seal Eyeing (3:38)
This e.p. features four tracks recorded at the same time as the material that ended up on the excellent Strawberry Jam album. If you believe the band, these tracks were always meant for a separate release, although other reviewers are preferring to call it a selection of out-takes from the album rather than an e.p. in its own right.
I'm not sure where I stand yet. The title track is familiar AC single territory, and would hold little surprise for anyone familiar with Who Could Win A Rabbit, or Grass, single from the two albums prior to Strawberry Jam. It has a crazy synth noise start, moves along at some pace with quick strummed acoustic and background 4/4 pulse, and the soft vocals over the top mention water, ghosts, sunset, making love, gypsies, knives and crushed sculptures. It ends with more crazy synth noise, and all is well with the world.
Street Flash, in common with the other two remain tracks, is much slower. A loop of three chords with heavy delay and half-chanted vocals with the same start things off, in the background sounds of sobbing and grief weave around the chord progression. The song breaks down into just a keyboard line, snippets of vocals and samples, sometimes backwards, and then things slowly build up with a heavily phased vocal, to the point of distortion, coming back in. The build up doesn't seem enough for the crying shout that follows, but it soon switches back to sounding how it did right at the beginning, and ends with samples of water bubbling. An intriguingly odd tune.
B-side opener Cobwebs has some standard metaphorising about being stuck in a cobweb ("The more I move the less I'm free" and so on) over a loop of processed tabla and clunking that sounds like an 80s computer game soundtrack. Also, oddly, aeroplane noises, and a lyrical obsession with not going underground.
If these tracks were always meant for a separate release then there is an obvious trajectory from higher-energy start to ambient-close as Seal Eyeing ends things with a piece of breathy vocalising over aimless piano, and is more a shapeless sketch of a song than a fully-fledged song. This kind-of works over a relatively short e.p. such as this, but I think I'd rather they'd put a live version of Water Curses on (in the manner of the People single) instead.
I ordered this directly from Domino, and the great thing about doing that is the free stuff you often get. This time, they sent me a copy of the Spring 2008 tour poster: