Florida Feed: AnCo's "ODDSAC"
ODDSAC: Visual Sounds for the Esoteric
I owe this amazing experience to my far away friend Mikael Kerr, he had messaged me a link for the event about a month prior to the show. I was ecstatic as we had been talking about the film for months and I was thinking I would have to wait for its release to the public before viewing. I have a deep passion for Animal Collective and all the creative mystery that surrounds their sound, I was beyond happy to know that I would get a chance to view their newest project and have a intimate Q & A with the director and a member of the band. When the date had finally arrived I was up with the sun and had much to do before embarked on my journey. I wanted to make sure I timed everything out correctly so I would arrive in Miami without feeling rushed. It was half an hour past two before I knew it and I needed to get over to the East side of town to scoop my friend Travis up. We hit the Turnpike and my excitement was apparent as we cruised down the cluttered highway and talked about anything under the musical spectrum.
We finally reached Miami a little past seven and dusk was looking rather inviting. The clouds were clearing and the moon was almost full. The warm breeze pushed the purple clouds to stretch over the skyline as the beautiful weather welcomed us into the city. My directions took me past the venue and I realized that much like the rest of the Historic District of Miami, it was surrounded by abandoned buildings and streets filled with the homeless. We decided not to park near the venue since we were going to do some exploring before the viewing. We ended up going to Bayfront, which is an outdoor shopping and entertainment plaza. There were street musicians filling the air with authentic sounds of Latin music. Aromas of Cuban cuisine was making my mouth water as we walked down the edge of the bay and watched the rows of yacht’s bob in the waves. The time slipped past us and before we knew it, it was nearly eight o’clock. We headed down to the venue and in less than an hour a huge line was formed and had wrapped around the entire building.
I began to feel anxious as I wanted to get a good spot before the viewing started so I circled a couple blocks to find some parking. I have to say; I hate Miami and their prepaid meter machines. It took me a couple tries before I found one that was in actual working condition. On the brighter side I ended up parking down a street behind the venue which rested my worried mind about the sketchy distance we would have to embark on after the viewing. I was grinning and giddy as hell as we walked up to the venue. The line was full of bodies that were native to the particular and somewhat pretentious scene of avant-garde and experimental music. As I walked to the other side of the building I weaved in and out of buzzing conversations about the band; the admirers were debating and trying to dissect anything and everything they could about their bewitched sound.
As we waited patiently in the back of the line wondering when it would ever move, we got to know some interesting people as we discussed music and other areas of interest. Before we knew it the line was slowly but surely moving. Not really knowing what to expect from the strange yet basic outer exterior that looked as if it once was used for commercial business purposes. Fogged stained windows climbed the length of the building and warmed the lights that blurred colors onto the glass. Tall trees were seen showering their branches on the top of the windows and only made you wonder what you were going to get glimpse of as you entered. I approached the two gentlemen that were checking names for will call and got the green light.
I turned the corner to see about one hundred and seventy chairs that had been already filled or held safe by legs and purses. The building was rather bare and capacious; a bar to my left and the sixteen inch screen was positioned in front of a stage. Lush enormous couches lined the back windows and sides of the building. There was one guy selling ODDSAC merch at a high top table that hugged two stoned columns. After taking a gander I walked the back perimeter of the building and was looking for the perfect spot to watch the film as Travis hit the bar for some drinks. I wasn’t too happy with the way the couches had been positioned in front of some of the columns, so I decided to stand behind the last row of chairs, dead center. I was standing in front of the scaffolding that was holding up the projector and decided this was the best space I was going to get. Travis then returned with an overpriced beer and like many of the other patrons we then took one of the tables that were placed in front of all the couches and decided to use it as a seat. It was perfect and as we got comfy one of the promoters came out and gave an introduction. He apologized for being on Miami time and told us that after the viewing we would get a Q&A with Danny Perez and Deakin (Josh Dibb of Animal Collective). I was oozing with happiness and was ready to get this show on the road. Danny was then called out to give a brief synopsis. The lights dimmed and the film began rolling.
Being quite the Animal Collective enthusiasts that I am, I was wide eyed and ready to soak in every bit of this film. I was so very thrilled to view this visual production that was scored with their intense ample sound; falling between the lines of lullabies, haunting murmurs and lyrics that seem to come from the minds of elated schizophrenic’s. As the track synced up with the screen I was so pleased to hear how loud and clear it was. The drone harmonies pumping through the speakers had me feeling like I was at a show. I know that if this viewing was at an actual theater the sound would not have had the same effect, which made the film, to me that much better.
The opening scenes followed the obscure vocals of the first track, seemed to put me in a trance as the black fluid seeped through the floral wallpaper and a creature surfaced through the wall. The dreadfully disturbing tone was being set as the frames flashed twisted creatures surrounded in a world of dark vigorous colors. The music was incredible; they were doing what they did best, blending cadence lurid measures with primitive sounds that lovers of the Collective identify with so well. Dark psychedelic visuals flashed through the frames, feeling as if subliminal messages were being poured into my brain discreetly. The two songs following the first were more so pieces of well sounding noise. Matching up with scenes of a diabolical looking creature as prismatic melted faces brilliantly flashed the screen between the frames. Thinking to myself how glad I was that there was nothing enhancing the film for me, as you could see that the inspiration for the film was dark and very twisted. The scenes transitioned from twisted creatures to pulsating static vibrations that imprinted radiant images of color into your retinas. I was thoroughly enjoying the film though there was neither dialogue nor plot.
My absolute favorite part of the film that might make me seem somewhat disturbed was the family campfire scene; the family of four roasted marshmallows on an open flame, as a huddled creature stalked through the forest. Not sure where the direction would go but the music implied something morbidly dark was on its way. As the smiling parents and laughing children slowly ate the marshmallows you could see how their faces changed from joyous to extreme disgust and horror as the mellow started to spew out of their mouths in a rather violent way. Before you knew it the creature was consuming the humans in a most grotesque manor, though it was hard not to be intrigued as the blood glimmered and dripped from the creature’s mouth. The scenes following after were great, especially the last scene and track of the score. I don’t want to spoil too much but I would have to say as the house lights turned on and the crowd began to applause, I was very pleased with the fifty minute featured film. No outlandish graphics or heavy computer generated scenes but it was nothing and everything I expected from the band, if that is in anyway understandable.
I got my things and headed to the front of the venue. I had my camera and recorder ready to go as Deakin and Danny walked toward the front of the venue. They called upon fans one by one as multiple hands lifted in the sea of people. The first question was asked if Matthew Barney (an avant-garde film maker) had any influence on the film. Danny had been a fan but felt like his inspiration was more so playful then Barney’s. The next hand picked asked if they were releasing a DVD for the film or a soundtrack and the answer was that they had decided that it would only be released as a DVD, they wanted the project to be recognized as a whole rather then separate pieces. They did not want to create the score then the film or visa versa it was a project that they wanted to complete all together and not one without the other.
A girl in the back then asked where the film was shot, Danny answered with saying that it mostly was shot in upstate New York but as well Pennsylvania and Maryland. Next hand called asked what they had used for the “screaming girl” the creature that looked like it was covered in “glittery” blood and other bright colors that gave texture to the look. Where as Deakin began to laugh, cause the “girl” was actually Dave (Avery Tare). Danny had said that they used a mixture of glue, make-up and glitter. It took more than make-up remover to remove it and he ended up peeling it off in multiple showers. Danny then explained how the shooting was very intense but all around fun for everyone.
A young lady in the back then asked why Animal Collective had turned to the dark side. Deakin jokingly said “Danny had given us a lot of intense psychedelic drugs”, the crowd laughed and he began to explain how their music was very visual. He spoke of when some of the band members started to play music together their main inspiration was taken from scores of horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Shining. They enjoyed making music that was visual and that pertained to that without the visuals. That is something that he said had been embedded into the band from their early roots. Deakin felt that even in their most poppy sound they still tried to take it into that direction. He looked at it as an opportunity to work in a more direct way, it was really a plus in Deskin’s eyes that the film was visually dark and fearful in parts that could be committed to.
Danny then moved to the next question which a film student was wondering the type of camera used, which was a BBX100. They shot in standard definition for the film and the finished project was viewed in high definition. A question I too wondered popped up, a fan had asked what ODDSAC meant. Danny hilarious commented that we would find out after the subliminal messages sunk in the next morning. I chuckled with the rest of the building and really wondered what the strange word could stand for. Moving on to the next question a hand in the back asked how long it took to create the film and I was surprised to hear that it took a total of four years.
Then the question arose of all the different quasi-narratives which one existed and presented its self for the best representation of the film. The answers were a bit mixed but Deakin went on to explain that he had never thought about the film in much of terms of the narrative for being creative; but actually shooting the film and creating the score. Like how the live action shots were a collaboration of ideas and worked on as the they surfaced. Danny then went to answer the question of what his least favorite part of the film was since he thought it might be a bit pretentious to discuss what he liked so much about a film he created. He told the audience of how some scenes didn’t work out, specially with peeled satanic face. They were supposed to be children in the shot but due to a mother thinking Danny was some sort of Satanist she withdrew her child and some of the other parents followed. Also one of the children had puked all over their costume and completely ruined the chances of ever getting that scene on film. He did the best he could with what he did shoot and edited the snip its of the scenes into the film.
A meek voice coming from the back of the venue asked if some of the images were generated through sound waves, like a visualization in wave form. But Danny clarified as he thought that would have been easier, he just ended up doing a lot of tedious editing to tweak the frames. The last question asked was how the film compared to their performance at the Guggenheim. Which for those of you that might not be familiar, Animal Collective performed Transverse Temporal Gyrus which featured original recorded music composed specifically for the event along with video projections, costumes, and props, rendering the band members and performers into intense, psychedelic created atmosphere for the viewers. Danny had went into full explanation of how much harder it was to shoot since it was a 360 degree view of the performance. Everything had to be precise and perfect unlike the film where you could edit the scenes that weren’t strong and had different locations to enhance the vision of the scenes. Deakin then explained how they were both fun to do but that the Guggenheim performance was physically harder due to the costumes and props but clarified in the end it was all worth it. He told the audience that the band didn’t think it was possible and had only found out about the opportunity in February. Just gave them a positive perspective that anything is possible.
After they had walked off I was feeling more than content. Having Deakin explain their early influences and direction they wanted to take their music, was one of the best parts of the evening. The explanation was what I had been waiting for, everything was now coming together and I felt as if I was grasping their muse more than ever. The Q & A gave a light to the film I know all would appreciate, there is nothing better then hearing it straight from the horses mouth (well at least in this case). Picking their brains to get exact inspiration for the scenes and all around an understanding of what they were trying to express through their music and Danny’s vision for this film was more than a treat.
I was beaming and excited to share all I had obtained as I walked through the bodies out the exit door. The warm breeze blew through my hair as I stepped outside, the moon was emitting a beautiful shade of cheese as the clouds covered its face. Excited to see that my car was still there and in one piece, Travis and I decided to head back home. Half an hour into our departure the sky was filling with electric cracks that broke through the darkness and lit the sky. I felt lucky as we got to witness the intense storms that were off into the distance…
Well, only until I realized that in no shape or form was it slowing down and that I was driving directly into it. Slow drops quickly turned into fast sheets of rain as the wind pushed my car and the lightening seemed as if it was striking directly in front of my car. I did my best to maneuver properly but ended up having to drive about 30 miles slower and stopped at a rest stop for a bit. An hour was added to our E.T.A but we arrived just as the storm had passed Orlando. My weary eyes and brain were ready for rest, I smiled as my head hit the pillow and hoped to dream, dreams of colorful wicked things.
Article & Photos By Natasha Gaye