If you’re into close encounters of the blurred kind musically you’ll find a safe haven within genre of experimental psychedelics. In the past twenty years or so this scene is mostly dominated by bands such as The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal, Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective and their innumerable side projects. Indeed, being a busy bee is pretty much the standard in this scene. Same goes for Animal Collective frontman David Portner (also known as Avey Tare) who announced a new outfit last year surrounding his own persona called Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks. This year the band debuted with Enter the Slasher House.
David Portner ’s name is obviously strongly connected to experimental indie band the Animal Collective in which he’s acts as the lead vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist and drummer. Portner however always wanted to express his creativity in a more broader sense and was part of several side projects. Pullhair Rubeye and Terrestrial Tones are best known and were born from a few negative experiences he had to deal with in life. Similarly, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks foundations also lie in such sort of circumstance. Portner was unable to sing due to strep vocal cords last year and with this new band he wants to show the world he’s back. Together with Jeremy Hyman (drums) and ex-Dirty Projector, Angel Deradoorian (guitar), Portner formed his Slasher Flicks stating the band is “[a] group of three hippies on a road trip through the backwaters of 2013s rural music scene fall prey to a murderous cannibalistic band making..”. Allright.., on a more lighter side Portner’s resurrection also caused him and Deradoorian to fall in love. So luckily for Portner not everything in life is doom and gloom.
Enter the Slasher House is an uptempo record and as a whole sounds quite positive as well, yet (and of course) in a strangely schizophrenic manner which we know from the work of the Animal Collective. Slasher House’s opening, ‘A Sender’ is a stressful one. The back-echoing foot-stomps and oppositional singing feel like uneasy dream which is even more pitched up during the second half of the track. Things get even more unsettling during the next track ‘Duplex Trip’ on which Portner sings on the top of his lungs and is supported by a carnivalesque loop. Franky I would understand if listeners would throw in the towel just here. Enter the Slasher House start is interesting but in fact very vague. However don’t give up just yet because Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks true colors of being a powerful garage-band still have to come into play. ‘Bind Babe’, ‘The Outlaw’, ‘Modern Days’ and ‘Strange Colores’ serve as the main examples here. With an almost scary sense of precision the Slasher Flicks developed some songs that are catchy, wrongheaded, pithy and fanatical at the same time. It’s like Devendra Banhart on amphetamine and is crossing over 80s alternative funk rock with todays eclecticism of New Weird America. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks is not only about these sort of fanatics, ‘Little Fang’, ‘Roses On The Window’ and ‘Catchy (Was Contagious)’ are more of a controlled nature. Whereas ‘Little Fang’ could easily be an ode to the Connan Mockasin, ‘Catchy (Was Contagious)’ is trippy melodic reference to African Highlife.
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks first feat is a nice addition for anyone who appreciates the work of the Animal Collective. As you might have guessed a few a few critical comments seem in place as well. Firstly Enter the Slasher House opening is not that inviting. The monotonous beginning is an easy scare to those who have a short span of attention. Secondly Portner ’s high pitched singing often comes close to the edge of screaming and becomes annoying at a certain moment. I’d forgive him for that. The man had some serious vocal problems in 2013 so why not give it all you got? Third and lastly, I believe the complete album set up is versatile and that a good thing in a way. However, its also Slasher House’s main pitfall. Most of the great melodies are drowned within the over ambitious and bemused production, making this debut an exhaustive listing experience in the end.
Label: Domino, 2014
- A Sender (5:36)
- Duplex Trip (4:20)
- Blind Babe (3:44)
- Little Fang (4:12)
- Catchy (Was Contagious) (3:21)
- That It Won’t Grow (4:28)
- The Outlaw (5:51)
- Roses on the Window (6:43)
- Modern Days E (3:22)
- Strange Colores (3:00)
- Your Card (5:08)
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Review by Wander Meulemans // 07092014