The act’s name, Sound Animal, could be reversed to Animal Sound and make just as much sense. Its four-track release, Death of Ages is a whole lot of sound. Some of this sound is discordant, some of it is musical. What it isn’t, for the most part, is rhythmic. Instead, these are four sound collages, which mix instrumental sounds – primarily electric guitar – with sound effects and spoken word vocals. All are long and involved and take you into a dark world. While dark, this world is nevertheless one creative unlit place.
Yes, “Ferals in the Rubble” is very much a psychedelic electric guitar track. However, this act has also been known to take a sort of kitchen sink approach to instrumentation, which may include lap steel, dulcimer, violin, flute, various drums, melodica, penny whistle, plus found objects, which are then amplified. One of these electrified transformed-into-an-instrument devices is an electric tennis racket. Presumably, this creation makes a loud (tennis) racket.
Opener, “Plasma Fields,” is created with a plethora of sounds, while its story is narrated theatrically by female spoken word part. Female vocals return with “Mama Forest,” but this time these vocals are sung, rather than spoken. Over a soundscape of electronic static, its words are sung rather plaintively. Dispassionately, in fact. This female vocal may remind you of Nico (from The Velvet Underground) providing one of her more robotic, emotionless performances. This lead vocal is buried deeply beneath an extremely dense mix. It’s a little like a computer room dirge.
Finding meaning in what Sound Animal creates is complicated, to say the least. Many of these words are observational. You might call these four pieces arthouse folk songs. These are not musicians that want to fill the world with silly love songs, like Paul McCartney. If these are, indeed, love songs, it’s difficult to know this for sure. For instance, the singing on “Mama Forest” sounds to be just one element inside a large collection of sonic elements, instead of the sound of a singer fronting a band. It is also over twenty-five minutes long, which makes it longer than the typical TV sitcom (and not funny like situation comedies, either). And yet, in its own weird way, this one is slightly mesmerizing. Although you won’t be able to groove to it in any regular way, you may still find yourself falling under its spell. It noisily gets into a droning mode that is oddly attractive. Toward the end, and by end we mean approximately ten minutes in, That Nico-esque deadpan female vocal sound kicks in on the track again. It sounds like an actress doing a one-woman’s show monologue.
This release closes with “Sky Fall.” It opens with an electric guitar (or, at least, we assume this is an electric guitar) intro. This string riff is followed by moody keyboard. At only just over nine minutes, this piece is relatively short. It sounds a bit like a philharmonic orchestra with its finger in a light socket.
Sound Animal is not for everyone. Rather, it’s for the extremely experimental at heart. If you’re willing to take this long, strange trip, though, you’ll likely find it quite rewarding.