Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / ‘Merriweather Post Pavillion’ by Anthony Mattox

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / 'Merriweather Post Pavillion' by Anthony Mattox

Anthony Mattox

After 7 albums and lots of amazing artwork we’ve finally reached the end of our Animal Collective Sights & Sounds series. We’re finishing things up with their last album Merriweather Post Pavillion which came out back in 2009. Unbeknownst to me, the album was made without Deacon, who normally plays guitar on the tracks. So they made an entire album without guitars, relying only on samplers to fill the void. It’s weird that I never noticed that the guitars were missing at all, but I guess that shows just how talented these guys are.

To handle the artistic duties on this wallpaper is Anthony Mattox, a digital artist and interaction designer from Baltimore. I love Anthony’s work because it’s pushing that weird boundary between art and technology, where the abstract data becomes beautiful looking designs. Here’s what he had so say about his wallpapers.

Merriweather Post Pavilion has the most frenetic and persistent energy throughout all of their albums. Animal Collective mashes together so many strange little sounds to create a droning, rhythmic, and optimistic sound. Inspired by this, I wanted to create an image with the same explosive energy and complexity.
I made a script using Processing which generates images by repetitively branching circles. As it grows, the branching algorithm itself evolves to create a variety of different patterns and textures and forms a complex knot of twisting tendrils and clustered circles.

A big thanks to Anthony for the beautiful wallpaper and the biggest thanks goes out to Andy Mangold. Andy did such a great job of choosing an eclectic, talented bunch of artists and I appreciate all of his work. Check back next week as we get back into a more regular groove of things with more wallpapers from amazing designers and artists.


Bobby Solomon

September 7, 2011 / By

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / ‘Strawberry Jam’ by Jen Mussari

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / 'Strawberry Jame' by Jen Mussari

Jen Mussari

Creating desktop wallpapers around an artists catalog of music might not interest everyone, but for me it’s partly like cultural anthropology. Every time a new wallpaper comes out I do my bit of research on the album, learning more about a collection of songs than I ever had before. For example, this week’s Animal Collective influenced wallpaper is based on Strawberry Jam, which in fact was inspired by the desert. The band recorded the album in Tucson, Arizona because they liked the idea of recording in the desert, something they had never done before.

I also thought it was interesting how the name of the album came about, a chance encounter with a travel sized pack of strawberry jam.

The name Strawberry Jam came from singer and drummer Panda Bear as he and the band were on a plane headed to Greece for a show. Upon receiving his complimentary tray of food, he opened up the packet of strawberry jam that had been provided for the bread. As he removed the cover of the packet, he was drawn to the look of the glistening jam, and he expressed his desire for the production of their new album to sound like the jam looked, “that is to say, something that’s really synthetic and sharp and futuristic looking,” but also “tangy and sweet, almost in a kind of aggressive way in terms of the way it tastes”.

Handling the job of interpreting the album is a lady named Jen Mussari, an illustrator with an amazing eye for color and composition. I remember when I first saw Jen’s wallpaper and I started laughing out loud because it’s such a random image, but that’s exactly why I think it’s so great. The colors are great as well, and I love the handmade feeling of the piece. As it turns out, the image is based on kind of a sad premise from the last track, which I’ve posted above for you to listen to.

“This is a narrative image based on the last song from Strawberry Jam, Derek. Up until this point the album wavers back and forth between carnal, physical ideas (like eating, cooking, etc.) and super-trippy transcendental ideas that Animal Collective is known for. Derek is a regretful memory about a family dog that passed away from neglect. The boys who own him witness a moment when Derek speaks English, and then passes away in the night.”

I owe a big thanks to Jen for making such a rad wallpaper and for all the support she’s given throughout the project. And again, a big thanks to the curator of this series Andy Mangold for picking such a talented group of individuals. Check back next Wednesday for our last wallpaper of the series, Merriweather Post Pavillion.


Bobby Solomon

August 31, 2011 / By

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / ‘Feels’ by Christopher Muccioli

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / 'Feels' by Christopher Muccioli

Christopher Muccioli

It’s Wednesday and we’re continuing our visual journey into the albums of Baltimore based band Animal Collective, today’s album being Feels. At this point in Animal Collective’s career, they were putting out an album a year, which is a feat for any band. Feels feels to me like what an Animal Collective album is supposed to be, it has all of those necessary ingredients like frantic drum beats, complex vocal layering and and a piano that’s become naturally out of tune. It’s one of my favorites because of it’s diverse range of songs, which honestly go all over the place. My favorite song off of the album is Banshee Beat because it shows that range really nicely. It starts out quietly, with a strumming guitar and a faint piano, until the drums start to slow filter in and the song bursts.

Handling the artwork for the album is Christopher Muccioli, a Baltimore designer/illustrator who’s work I totally admire. His site is a joy to explore, he plays with some really interesting ways of presenting his work. The work itself is annoyingly good, with lots of love in the area of screen printing, both t-shirts and posters. I feel like his love of screen printing is blended into the vibe of his wallpaper as well, with this big smears of paint dripping down over the cymbal and drum, which play such a pivotal role in this album. Here’s what Chris had to say about his wallpaper.

Listening to the album “Feels” I focused in on the various sound characteristics that come out through the dynamics of the album. Some of the most energetic parts of the album happen through the use of a cadencing floor tom which has influenced a number of bands and musicians around today and being a drummer myself I felt it appropriate to focus on. The splashy crash on tracks like Did You See The Words? and The Purple Bottle add a lot of color and dynamics that really drive the songs and pull you in.

I think the simplicity of this wallpaper is a big plus, I know how a lot of you readers are! A huge thanks to Chris for participating and yet again, another huge thanks to Andy Mangold for being an awesome curator. Check back next Wednesday when we tackle Strawberry Jam, the wallpaper is fantastic, I promise you’ll love it.


Bobby Solomon

August 24, 2011 / By

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / ‘Sung Tongs’ by Andy Mangold

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / 'Sung Tongs' by Andy Mangold

Andy Mangold

I’m super excited this morning because we’ve finally reached Sung Tongs, one of my favorite records and a place where I think most Animal Collective fans start their collections. At this point they had recorded 3 albums in two years, although this album was recorded only by Avey Tare and Panda Bear. To me, Sung Tongs feels like they finally felt comfortable with the music they were making, like they really started to understand just what they were doing.

Some of the songs on this album are some of my favorites of theirs overall. I’ve posted Kids on Holiday above as the sample because it’s possibly one of my favorite Animal Collective songs. There’s a pace and rhythm to this song that’s unlike any I’ve ever heard, it’s hypnotic. Then you have songs like Winter’s Love, which I would personally describe as a beautiful track. Split in two, the beginning melody acts as a prelude to what’s to come. Even the 12:37 song Visiting Friends is beautiful, a slow hush of guitars over a trickle of random-seeming, ambient sounds.

As for the wallpaper today, I can’t think of anyone better to interpret this then the curator of this series, Andy Mangold. Andy has such a vibrancy to his design style, all of his work feels so crisp and perfect. He’s also a master of all mediums, doing everything from posters, branding, package design, even a wood block calendar with custom designed numerals.

With Andy’s wallpaper for Sung Tongs I feel like he’s totally captured the energy and beauty of the album. I think if someone didn’t know better they’d think this was the real album cover. It’s colorful without being jarring and there’s lots of room for your icons, for Mac or Windows kids. Here’s what he had to say about his wallpaper.

Sung Tongs feels very childish to me, in a good way. There is an immaturity and naivete that gives the whole album an air of authenticity and rawness. The image of the children playing on the jungle-gym is how I choose to imagine David and Noah creating the album, experimenting, probing, exploring, and above all else, laughing.

The diversity of sounds and sonic textures is staggering, especially considering it was all created by only two people. I tried to represent this variation visually with the spectrum of colored, textured bars layered over the imagery.

A very big thanks to Andy for not only this beautiful wallpaper but for curating so many amazing artists. The talented folks chosen have made some of the best wallpapers out there, and I owe him a lot. Thanks Andy! Check back next week when we explore Feels.

Bobby Solomon

August 17, 2011 / By

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / ‘Here Comes The Indian’ by Niv Bavarsky

Sights & Sounds: Animal Collective / 'Here Comes The Indian' by Niv Bavarsky

Niv Bavarsky

Continuing on this fine collection of Animal Collective inspired wallpapers, we’ve got this rad piece by Baltimore illustrator Niv Bavarsky. He was tasked with tackling the challenge that is Here Comes the Indian, Animal Collective’s first official release as AC with all the members from the current line-up you know and love. This was their fourth album, and a vast departure from their previous Campfire Songs. I think the phrase ‘psych-folk’ started getting tossed around because of their practice of taking a more traditional acoustic guitar sound and messing it up with electronic effects. Honestly, this is a tough album to listen to, but I think Niv did an amazing job.

As you’ll see in his personal statement, his combination of both digital and physical is a great way to approach this. The album is this mess of sounds and his wallpaper reflects that really well. I also thought it was funny that he chose to use a campfire for his wallpaper, drawing upon an element from the last album and tweaking it for this wallpaper. Overall I’m a big fan of his work. There’s something about his style that’s so uniquely him, his painterly lines and his great color choices. Here’s what he had to say about his wallpaper:

“Here Comes the Indian” combines a lot of disparate elements: harsh electronic noise, organic improvisation, sadness and celebration. I set out to make something in this spirit, working instinctively and combining traditional & digital process.”

A big thanks to Niv for such a great, handmade wallpaper and to our curator Andy Mangold for yet another ace choice. Check back next week for Sung Tongs!

Bobby Solomon

August 10, 2011 / By