It’s a good thing I’m not a film reviewer or a total indie elitist.
Even a day after witnessing/experiencing the screening of Animal Collective and director Danny Perez’s “visual album” Oddsac at Baltimore’s Senator Theater, I have absolutely no grasp of what I saw. I also can’t say, “Not worth my time,” nor “OMG Animal Collective is so great, how did I exist before this?”
Oddsac is not a traditional film. It’s also not live footage, or strictly experimental. It is a strangely cohesive, colorful movie that lacks plot, but instead is a series of musical and visual themes; an album with pictures.
The film lasts about 53 minutes and contains all new compositions from the noise-crafters unlike anything I’ve heard from them before. Since the film was structured prior to the band’s more accessible albums, Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion, the ambiance and erratic noises are at full-flow. The film’s songs are generally not complete, but instead are more like moods and, at times, predictably, purposefully discordant (annoying?) rhythms. They're carefully timed to each tweak of the visuals.
Oddsac opens with the strongest scene: a red-glitter faced man throwing fire and walking slowly, angrily, towards a female in a house that is slowly filling with black ooze. The music is gripping and the scene enacts, successfully, what Perez claims was the film’s purpose: to evoke feelings of anxiety, repulsion, and discomfort. When asked during the Q&A afterwards why he’d want to evoke such things in an audience: “Why not? Think outside the fucking box.”
Other successful moments: a man with long, white hair sets up a drum kit in the middle of a boulder field and plays consistently, with sporadic, scary interruptions in the key of industrial metal. Four girls pretend to bake on a stage built in the middle of the woods as glitter man “shouts” at them until they all erupt in a fun food fight.
The other stuff: a family of four eats marshmallows, and then is grossly consumed by the marshmallows; next, a sad vampire consumes them.
You got me there.
Still, I cannot fathom that everyone sitting in the packed theater last night appreciated the very long kaleidoscopic crisscrosses of deep tie-dye and repetitive sound, serving as heaving confrontational scenes between the more song-y songs. Not that you were supposed to appreciate them. They did their job of annoyance and repulsion on my behalf. But unlike Animal Collective’s live shows, where this goes on in the background, seeing it on a big screen for more than five minutes had me looking around the theater. I was hoping someone was looking back at me.