Trial & Error. Animal Collective, Centipede Hz.

As with all forms of experimentation, every Animal Collective endeavour feels a case study of various successes and failures; of trial and error. For every Merriweather Post Pavilion there's a Fall Be Kind; for every Leaf House a Pride And Fight. Thus the overriding sensation with their every effort concerns how capable Maryland's most noteworthy contemporary musicologists are of achieving a balance between the direct and the directionless. With ninth studio LP Centipede Hz, equilibrium isn't exactly achieved, although unquestionably some monumental feats of listenability are accomplished.

Whatever you may view the true merits of laudable musicianship to be, there's an incalculable worth to its ability to transport and remove the individual from whatever positioning within a general monotony it wishes to evade, and Animal Collective have really nailed this one on the head. There's an intangibility to their work – not least in that an implausibly comprehensive knowledge of analog synthesisers, Ableton and springy harmony is required to even attempt to imitate – but in that it sounds like nothing else from anywhere else ever. In many a regard AnCo is the consummate vessel to clamber aboard as we gather together a few last worthwhile earthly relics and drift away toward the pixelated horizon beyond which lie the digital epochs to come. Applesauce, a return to the succulent melodies of the hugely fruitful Strawberry Jam, could even soundtrack the splintering of the bottle on the side of the bow as we cast off. Pulleys, meanwhile, is one of the troupe's easiest listens to date; a loose, yet well-oiled trance vehicle rolling around atop the thwacking of sticks and explosive trashing of cymbals.

Though the feel of the record is one of fluidity, whereby making sense of the four-piece inaugurating their presumably temporary Animal Collective Radio. Purposefully leaking new pieces alongside contrasting solo material from whichever sonic Geologist could be found behind the proverbial plates, each track here drizzles and oozes into that which follows almost as though impeccably pieced mix. Yet whilst one may anticipate the resultant effect to be one of cohesion, momentarily it merely serves to exacerbate just how disparate the finished product can be.

The incomprehensible frenzies of Moonjock – a rather ill-judged opener – eventually dissolve into static, evaporating in the ensuing silence yet from the bemusement engendered arises Today's Supernatural with an otherworldly wobble and a demented vocal wibble from the album's most prominent bulwark, Avey Tare. His all-pervasive conspicuousness is at times overwhelming, as it stamps out the definitively ethereal touch of Noah Lennox more often than not and if we are to revere AnCo as The Beach Boys of today then the Mike Love of the piece stakes a quite patent claim. Though to return to the theory of their extraterrestrial impact, only Tare's gurgles of "bet you're in Baltimore laughing so loud" reconnect any lent ears to a knowable reality.

To revert to this trodden ground however, Centipede Hz not only signifies the return of Deakin (or Josh Dibb to the Federal Bureau of Investigation) to the fray, but also the band's relocation to their native Baltimore. Tare bought up an abode just down the road from the high school where they originally came together now well over a decade ago, and although he deems the result of spending months in each other's pockets to be a discombobulating compound of "old and new", it's the latter which proves most noticeable throughout. Wompy tribalisms are soused with trademark washes of damp reverb on Wide Eyed, these determining strands of the group's DNA then intertwined with the expansive primordial pop of the segueing Father Time. Just as Yeasayer's recent invitation into their Fragrant World illustrated just how effectively the sights of world music could be set on the future as opposed to the rigid traditionalisms of times long since expired, this sonic stream of consciousness midway through the record elucidates just how clear their creative vision can be when concentratedly focussed. They then flow down into New Town Burnout as though squeezing down already bulbous artery, carrying these central themes with them. An ebullient slow-burner stoked by an indelibly memorable pop hook snagged from the venerated Merriweather Post Pavilion, it – along with the majority of Centipede Hz – feels as though it'll but grow once allowed to infect and subsequently infest.