I’m struggling to notice the difference between Avey Tare’s solo album and his work as one third of Animal Collective. Weirdly out of time beats synced to warped vocals and electronic echoes are basically what made last year’s Merriweather Post Pavilion. Obviously Avey Tare aka Dave Portner thinks he’s doing something different, or there wouldn’t be solo albums, and for fans of his previous work it’s impossible to deny the sonic wonders Down There comprises.
The production is slightly lighter than that of Animal Collective, presumably because this is a one-man job. It’s in the songs where Portner cuts back on heavy sound layers that he really shines; in the deep bass beats of Oliver Twist colliding magnificently with his underwater voice, or the otherworldly cries of Laughing Hieroglyphic commanding attention from opening.
Portner has the gift of emoting with instrumentals moreso than any vocal contortions; Glass Bottom Boat sounds like its title, bubbling synths escaping into a sonic ether that seems entrapped in an invisible box.
Other moments on the record would be fitting as Animal Collective b-sides, like the Nintendo-esque backing on Ghost of Books featuring Portner doing his best whining yell through a vocoder or the eerily hushed tempo of Cemeteries.
It’s hard to fault Down There; it’s still original although it harkens to Portner’s other projects and more innovative than most electronic music currently being touted by the populist indie masse. Just slip on the headphones, turn out the lights and listen.