About This Event
This show currently has no COVID safety requirements for attendees. This is subject to change. If this changes we will be sure to update this page as well as notify all ticket buyers via email.
Over two decades have passed since Animal Collective accidentally began to reimagine the sound and image of what’s easiest here to call indie rock. From the start, they turned the ultimately rare trick of tucking inscrutable experiments into songs so infectious they became generational standards, empowering a new permissibility within a sometimes-stodgy scene. They helped make the world safe for The Grateful Dead and tie-dye, or indie rock open to the Gamelan and Juju. Influences, they implicitly insisted, matter less than the music and spirit they inspire. Such paradigm-bending lessons are now simply part of the paradigm, philosophical cornerstones of modern music. But Animal Collective have never sat still, even on the cornerstones they helped create.
Time Skiffs, the quartet’s first studio album in more than half a decade, feels like listening in on a conversation among four old friends, just as it felt during their inchoate early days or their Strawberry Jam heyday. These nine songs are love letters, distress signals, en plein air observations, and relaxation hymns, the collected transmissions of four people who have grown into relationships and parenthood and adult worry. But they are rendered with Animal Collective’s singular sense of exploratory wonder, same as they ever were. There are harmonies so rich you want to skydive through their shared air, textures so fascinating you want to decode their sorcery, rhythms so intricate you want to untangle their sources. Here is Animal Collective past 20, still in search of what’s next.
It has been easy in these last two years to be more anxious than ever, to give yourself over to the sense that here we are at the end of days, every day. There are traces of that on Time Skiffs, moments of worry about the future we’re creating in the present or consternation with the moments we face now. There is sadness, turmoil, mourning. But there is mostly an undeniable joie de vivre to Time Skiffs, an excitement with love and life and nature and (sometimes) people. There are extended stargazing sessions, discursive country drives, contented creative nights, long-distance phone calls. There is gratitude and acceptance and exhilaration. “It’s really new every day,” goes one line that sticks out not as some overwrought thesis but as a genuine realization, an epiphany in real time. That is the prevailing sense of Time Skiffs—that, at our absolute best, we can be ever new, always in awe of what is yet to come.
Despite the protracted gestation, Time Skiffs is shorter than most Animal Collective records. But as it ends, you long to linger for a while longer, to coexist with the band in this full state of being and feeling. That is perhaps the real feat of Time Skiffs, made by a band whose songs seemed so audacious and new that their emotional cores could sometimes be overlooked. Here is the heart of Animal Collective.
Avey Tare has said that, for him, hearing music has always been a way to be transported, to be whisked away to another time for three or seven or ten minutes at a time. These nine songs, then, are now your own Time Skiffs, your vehicles for traveling to the wilds of Western North Carolina or a sunset surrounded by seagulls or a New Orleans night making music with your friends or any other moment, however real or imagined, that floats into your mind. For these 47 minutes, you feel like you belong somewhere else, like you’ve returned to a place that feels both familiar and foreign, where reality is bent just enough to suggest some beautiful new horizon. Enjoy the trip to whenever and wherever these time skiffs may take you.
Brooklyn-born and based experimentalist and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, aka L’Rain, is mapping the enormity of how to change. Her forthcoming second album, Fatigue, demands introspection from ready ears with an array of keyboards, synths, and hauntingly delicate vocals that create a genre entirely her own. Cheek has dipped her toes in every corner of the arts, through her work at some of the most prestigious art institutions in NYC and collaborations with the likes of Naama Tsabar, Kevin Beasley, Justin Allen, and others in contemporary arts.
How do we think through, express for, attest to, commit within and embody a substantive change for ourselves? How do we enact change in the company of others? What does it mean to internally engage with an abolition politic? These questions compose and propel the sonic energy of Fatigue. Over the course of 15 tracks, L’Rain continues her careful plotting of where we travel when cruising along the side alleys and major roads of an emotional city. Fatigue progresses the psychic collage assembled from her self-titled debut. Fatigue, while still cycling the wheel of grief, veers into the self-reckoning of holding emotional multiplicities that do not and cannot remain static. Cheek knows how we feel, and who we feel, expanding ever outward.
In the closing moments of the opening track, “Fly, Die”, we are asked, ‘What have you done to change?” This question is both invitation and invocation. Change and changing is not something done alone; it is a group process. L’Rain is clear in her desire for the collective to reflect and feel, admit and deny, balance and discard, consider and implement with her.
With a release date in 2021, the timing of Fatigue is not coincidental. Collectively, we are navigating the immense and looming figure of unremitting fatigue brought on by the ongoing pandemic, mass death, continued violence against Black people at the hands of the state, and the mountain range systemic problems obstructing safety and security for the people that need it most. This quick succession of events wears our resilience to weariness. To question the nature of change with the awareness of weariness is to question the nature of exhaust: what are we putting out?
Fatigue puts out slippery sonics that Cheek describes as “approaching
songness.” This “approaching songness” highlights L’Rain’s commitment to the experimental value of process as her practice. Heavily blending genres (thus making new unnameable space for herself) including but not limited to gospel, jazz, and neo-soul, Fatigue fractures and mends
our expectations of what musicians, especially Black women musicians, are categorized to do versus what they need to do (and actually do).
In many ways, Fatigue is a sonic meditation on finding balance through the obliteration of binary logic. Refusing the finitude of either/or, L’Rain readily embraces the flexibility both/ and provides. “This album is an exploration of the simultaneity of human emotions...the audacity of joy in the wake of grief, disappointment in the face of accomplishment. The pervasiveness of this layering of emotions can be surprising, empowering, and discouraging; these overlaps happen every single moment, all the time,” L’Rain expresses. “I might be trying to be heard more on this record. You can hear more of the words, my vocals are louder.” This sentiment is most clearly, though subtly, expressed in the titles of the tracks. The titles can be read as a poem of 30 words and 15 lines, potentially divided into 3 stanzas. The presentation of poetic intervention brilliantly subverts our expectations of what lyrics do, where they present, the summarization of ideas, where and how marginalized people can be read or misread. “Black people, who, in the face of violence and discrimination, are often given little time to process.” The poetics of Fatigue gains even more radical momentum when we make clear how much of Black process and processing are forcibly rendered into abbreviation.
Fatigue encourages us to listen, laugh, mourn, hum, linger, realize, know, accept and release who we are, who and what we can be when we allow movements of change to be a necessary component of, not an antithesis to, rest.