A word of warning: This isn’t the Animal Collective you’ve come to know and love. “Animal Collective” didn’t even exist at the time of this recording in 2001, because the boys were performing under the more descriptive — but far less catchy — Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist. (Deakin had yet to join the group.) Hollinndagain, if you don’t know by now, is the perennial-eBay-fodder live album the band released a scant three hundred copies of back in 2002. I applaud the decision to finally give this infamous live disc a proper release, but it’s fitting that it’s coming out on Halloween, since people will ultimately feel tricked or treated.
It’s hard to see people who only know the band through Sun Tongs and Feels finding much to enjoy here, because the sophistication — and, frankly, the catchiness — of a song like “Grass” is absent. The embryonic Animal Collective was feral and chaotic and creatively still at the low end of its learning curve. This isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of interesting ideas being explored, but it’s easy to lose the plot of most of these songs because it doesn’t seem as though any of them were actually written in the first place.
The first few tracks, taken from a radio performance on WFMU, illustrate this point. “I See You Pan” and “Pride and Fight” together form what’s essentially a twenty-minute slice of avant-psychedelia. The tam-tam freak-out near the sixteen-minute mark is thrilling, but it’s also criminally brief, making it a poor payoff for all the meandering you had to endure up to that point.
Hollinndagain is probably worth the hard-earned cash of completists, fan boys who want to understand the group’s evolution, and anyone who’s ever listened to Campfire Songs and thought, Wouldn’t it be great if this was rawer and less refined? Anyone else might want to think twice.