Panda Bear on “Buoys”

Insight Outlook

May 01, 2019 Issue #65 - Mitski and boygenius
Bookmark and Share


If there is one continuous thread that ties together the diverse discography of Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox, also of Animal Collective), it is his unyielding insistence on pushing forward. Whether that be reflected in his ever-evolving aesthetic or in the affirmations and mantras delivered in his songs, he is never content to just sit still and rest on his laurels. His latest album Buoys is no different, maintaining the constant recreation that has become as much a hallmark of his sound as any particular sonic device.

"What is happening currently musically has always been the thing that fascinates me most," Lennox says, explaining what influenced the sounds on Buoys. "I have no interest in wanting to do a copy of something but the songwriting was so idiosyncratic that I felt like there was no way it was going to sound like a trap record even though the fundamentals of the sounds of trap were sort of what we were aiming for. The intention was to mirror the sonic architecture of a Mike Will production or Zaytoven."

Certainly, the vocal production on this album is one of the most distinguishing features from previous albums, with the vocals boosted more directly in the mix, with far less spacious reverb and an even coating of Auto-Tune applied. For Buoys, Lennox returned to the studio with Rusty Santos, a frequent collaborator whose past work with Lennox includes engineering and producing on Animal Collective's Sung Tongs and Panda Bear's Person Pitch, respectively. "I think the vocals being so loud initially came from Rusty but the end result was a hybrid of both of our inputs," Lennox says. "I have done a lot of stacking of vocals and choral harmonies, and I knew I wanted to do something where the vocal was more intimate and singular and I felt like it was a code I couldn't crack for a while. Once we found the path of the Auto Tune and the way of re-sampling the vocal and setting it behind it and the delays on the vocals, it dictated a lot of decisions down the road."

Thematically the album is concerned with the way that our impulses "can lead us down unsavory roads" but Lennox says that there is also "an admission that there is an evil inside me" and that he attempted "to embrace those impulses." This fascination with the "software" of humans is reflected in the title of the album, which takes its inspiration from a childhood memory where Lennox would travel to Maine with his family. "I had this image of being young and looking out at the sea," he reflects, explaining how the buoys that lobster fisherman laid would mark their individual traps that lay While Lennox is cautious to say that Buoys marks a new direction for him, he does say that he has a couple of plans for the future, including a potential three-piece live band that would play through the album in a manner he imagines would be like The Violent Femmes. Such a left-field move is par for the course with Lennox though, who readily admits that the uncertainty in the future is part of the excitement. "I do feel that you can't open yourself up to really positive experiences without opening yourself up to really negative experiences or feelings. I feel that it goes in both directions."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 65 of Under the Radar's print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.pandabearofficial.com

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.