Panda Bear

Person Pitch

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The radical evolution of Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear's sound over the course of his solo catalog is inextricable from the concordant developments happening with his collaborations in Animal Collective. Both entities shifted gears quickly from album to album, but the wildly different places Lennox would take his experiments truly found a voice of their own with Person Pitch, his 2007 quilt work of samples, textures, and unprecedented explorations of joy and sorrow. The same jittery campfire folk-psych that Animal Collective perfected on 2004's Sung Tongs spilled over onto Panda Bear's cloudy acoustic ruminations on his solo album Young Prayer, released later that same year. By the time of 2005's Feels, Animal Collective had morphed into their own feral take on a more traditional rock band, acoustic guitars and wilderness noises traded in for drums, processed guitars, and blissed-out vocal loops. This straightforward approach made Person Pitch feel all the more out of left field, with Lennox deftly constructing the album almost entirely from carefully mapped-out samples, minimal beats, and endless layers of his own reverb-saturated vocal harmonies. The divergence from band playing toward electronic composition would inform and influence a huge swath of indie rock that came after, with Animal Collective themselves catching up to Panda's electronic leanings by the time of their high-water mark, 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion. Though comprising just seven tracks, not a second of time is wasted over the course of Person Pitch. From the loop of clapping that brings "Comfy in Nautica" into focus to the gentle guitar chords and steady kick-drum pulse of album closer "Ponytail," each sound is economical and deliberate. Lennox's gift here is assembling small sounds to create a bigger picture. "Take Pills" builds its rhythm from interlocking samples of scraping skateboard wheels and an anonymous oldies radio loop before walls of Beach Boys-esque harmonies come in on top. The song goes on to a second half made up of a bouncing, skeletal bassline and more waves of harmonies, occasional sound effects of distant atom bombs, screeching animals, and splashing puddles all culminating in a blurry pastiche that seconds as a perfect pop song. This is also true of album centerpiece "Bros," a 12-minute collage of chiming guitar arpeggios, stony vocal harmonies, hooting owls, and phasing loops that fade in and out of each other. More electronic impulses are blended into the respective grooves of two-parter "Good Girl/Carrots," while hazy tape manipulation, wordless vocal loops, and soft noise make up the more ambient "Search for Delicious." Disarmingly simple, perfectly metered, and striking in both its playfulness and vulnerability, Person Pitch stood as a perfectly executed statement for Lennox, and in at least some circles of indie rock, a musical revelation.

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