This week’s artist of the week is a member of the most cutting-edge band working in indie-rock today (oh, I said it). As a solo artist, he’s also respected for creating some of the greatest and most innovative music of, shall we say, the post-2000 indie-rock renaissance (oh, I said that too). The artist of the week is…
Now, I now we’re all psyched about the new album, Tomboy, which is coming out soon (April 12th, less than two weeks from today), but I wasn’t inspired to make Panda Bear the artist of the week because of that album. Rather, he is this week’s artist of the week because I’ve been listening to his first album, the self-titled Panda Bear, released in 1998 when Noah Lennox was just 20 years old. It’s a bit of a rough album, and his singing is, um, amateurish (to be kind) at this stage. Still, songs like “Mich Mit Einer Mond” and “Liebe Auf Den Ersten Blick” (both instrumentals) hint at the ability he would later perfect of using electronic and acoustic sounds to create very beautiful and organic-sounding music.
Something about hearing these gifts in their infancy is even more incredible than hearing them in their prime – there’s no question that the music he makes now is better, more developed, more incredible, but still, there’s a purity of talent on the album that is at its most naked and innocence.
Anyways – after his self-titled he made Young Prayer in 2004 which I pretty much just didn’t really dig at all. After that, of course, came the masterpiece we all know and love, Person Pitch, in 2007. To my knowledge it was the first album to use samples in the way that it does, its style and methodology laying the groundwork for the ‘Samplegaze’ genre.
The next Animal Collective album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, would adapt this methodology (though Strawberry Jam also used samples in a very interesting way that anticipated what the band would accomplish next) and some would say that it expanded on them. I’d rather think of MPP and Person Pitch as two sides of the same coin, each displaying distinctly different paths an artist could take with samplegaze. MPP showed how one could create perfectly legitimate and accessible pop music with it (“My Girls”), while Person Pitch showed how one could use samples to create a lush, immersive soundscape to get lost in. And I’d say both efforts were ridiculously successful in accomplishing what they set out to do. Each one deserves to be in every self-respecting indie rocker’s record collection (though it’d be nice if Domino charged less for the MPP vinyl).
So far I’ve been loving the Tomboy singles. As more of a ‘pop structures’ guy, I think I’m going to like it even more than Person Pitch, though my ambient-loving roommate feels the opposite. Can’t wait for it to drop.