Concert Preview: Animal Collective w/ RATKING @ Union Transfer 2/19


— by Ian Norris

Your favorite experimental Baltimoreans since Zappa are back in action with some unlikely guests. Excluding Deakin (Josh Dibb aka the Deakmeister), who has been busy polishing his Kickstarter-funded solo debut scheduled to come out later this year, Animal Collective’s Avey Tare (Daniel Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), and Geologist (Brian Weitz) have teamed up with Wiki, Hak, and producer Sporting Life of New York’s hip-hop outfit RATKING to embark on a world tour in support of their forthcoming album Painting With. Fortunately for us, Union Transfer is the first stop of the tour; unfortunately, the groups’ odd allegiance has generated much attention, causing most U.S. dates to sell out immediately, and with good reason.

AnCo has come a long way since its formative years in Baltimore County, honing its fusion of ambient, psychedelic, and folk, equally influenced by krautrock and horror movies. With all members of the collective having solidified their respective stylings of electronic, from Panda Bear’s critically-acclaimed Person Pitch and Avey Tare’s inventive Slasher Flicks, the good ol’ gang is back, in more ways than one. With its newest single “FloriDada,” Animal Collective has returned to its more organic, percussive, freak-folk roots that it nearly perfected in its albums Feels. Channeling the left-field pop of Merriweather Post Pavilion, vivid colors of Strawberry Jam, and the cacophonous textures of Sung Tongs, the neo-psychedelic outfit has hybridized its past influences into a newly improved brand of accessible, highly melodic, and quasi-danceable pop that we have grown to love. And it’s damn well better than Centipede Hz. Painting With will be released by Domino Records on the day of the show, February 19th.

RATKING isn’t as much of a wild card for the tour roster as some might think; in fact, it makes a good deal of sense with AnCo’s great influence of the hip-hop group’s atmospheric, wall-of sound sampling, and cerebral lyricism, as well as their collaboration with Avey Tare’s former noise project Black Dice. As grimy and abrasive as RATKING’s name suggests, referring to a cluster of diseased rats being tied together by the tails, their music weaves stories and images of the decrepit lows of passion. Making their XL label debut with 2014’s So It Goes, the trio has blown up among the underground rap community, including features with King Krule (Archy Marshall) and tour dates with Death Grips. Their live sets often include motion pictures of gory violence and social alienation, similar to that of Godspeed You! Black Emperor; although, Wiki “One Brow” will typically bludgeon himself in the head with his microphone simultaneously. To put these guys’ talent and ridiculousness into perspective, I have a friend driving up from Northwest Indiana to Philadelphia, an eleven-and-a-half hour drive, just to see RATKING with me. Don’t you dare miss it.