Animal Collective: Time Skiffs (Domino) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, July 5th, 2022  

Animal Collective

Time Skiffs


Mar 16, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Since their last proper studio album, 2016’s Painting With, the ever-restless bunch of creative minds behind Animal Collective have been prolifically charting and sampling the nether regions of our sonic field. From the collaborative visual album Tangerine Reef to the sonic travelogue of Meeting of the Waters, in addition to a soundtrack, multiple EPs, solo efforts by three-fourths of the group, and a mini-residency featuring site specific compositions, the magicians from Baltimore have been exploring the spaces around us as if we were living inside one giant instrument that simply needed to be properly tuned for us to hear. Their latest, Time Skiffs, distills this inimitable period of experimentation into chamber pop grandeur without sacrificing any of the inquisitive wonder that animated their less formal releases.

Returning to their usual modus operandi, the group workshopped a large portion of the material on the album live before setting it down on wax. This process is organically reflected in the exploratory washes of sound in the tracks that rather than merely being interstitial moments sequencing between tracks, take up the foreground as structures coming into focus, skeletons struggling to be born. From the languid burbles and dubby, terraced drums of “Passer-by” to the glittering, kinetic BBC Radiophonic Workshop style synths of “Car Keys” the songs invite a glimpse at their own deconstruction and coalescence that recalls the crystallizing formations of the band’s Feels era.

With the mapping of sonic space comes the inevitable negotiation of territorial lines that divide the traditional, already demarcated space from the encroaching modern influence. In their quest to honestly depict their influences the collective act as sonic conservationists, firmly grounded in a historical continuum that gives acknowledgement to predecessors and squarely on the side of homage as opposed to appropriation, including land acknowledgements on the inner sleeve of the vinyl. Centerpiece “Cherokee” attributes a writing credit to Harry Owens, a composer known for being the first to write down and orchestrate traditional Hawaiian tunes. Atop a jaunty, skipping rhythm Avey Tare sings about stray observations from the road before breaking off into a rapturous, fractalizing detour that dilates and distends like food coloring added to cream. Even within such historical constraints of tradition, the group manages to find new flavors to express, new combinations to offer. The collective’s preservation of our musical past continues to make time skiff and point the way to the future. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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