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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surreal Swampscape
Considering the amount of reviews for projects by other members of Animal Collective (certainly Panda Bear's undeniable 'Person Pitch'), I was surprised to find how few there were for Down There. While the album may not have had enough time to make a splash at this point, it is well worth the listen for fans of Avey Tare and other associated Animal Collective...
Published on January 19, 2011 by B. Marlow

versus
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Total Dud
As a big fan of much of AC's work, and definitely being one that's inclined to the songs written by Dave Portner as opposed to the Rafi-wannabe "Panda Bear" I was optimistic that this album would interest me. But it's a dud. Downbeat, scattered, lacking coherence. It's a bit too much for me. Not a single song I like.
Published 23 months ago by Pick George


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surreal Swampscape, January 19, 2011
This review is from: Down There (Audio CD)
Considering the amount of reviews for projects by other members of Animal Collective (certainly Panda Bear's undeniable 'Person Pitch'), I was surprised to find how few there were for Down There. While the album may not have had enough time to make a splash at this point, it is well worth the listen for fans of Avey Tare and other associated Animal Collective members.

Before purchasing, I spent a few minutes reading reviews elsewhere [than Amazon] online, and many were at least politely negative, while others were quite harsh. Even a positive review mentioned 'wordless vocals' and somehow made the whole thing sound more like an experiment than the polished, thematic whole that I'm hearing on my end. In my mind, what Avey has done here is incredible.

[The Emotional Part]
Where 'Person Pitch' (sorry, but the comparison is somewhat helpful/inevitable) took the grassroots, tribal sound of Animal Collective in a shimmering sunlit direction, 'Down There' uses those same distinctive elements to create a dark and swampy world, one that is perhaps more personal and revealing than the nonstop all-encompassing positivity of Panda's album. Here Avey invites us to wander in a beautiful, mysterious soundscape populated by all manner of unseen characters and chirping electronic beings. The mood that is created here is nothing less than arresting, and the theme is so atmospheric that at times Avey's voice feels like a will'o'wisp, pulling the listener along a path while myriad curiosities float by just out of sight on either side. Much of the album feels like tentative exploration into a foreign and potentially dangerous land; these are followed by places that one wants to linger, beautiful moments of clarity and discovery. Yet all along there is no stopping, as the next movement is already illuminating the path ahead.

I love Panda's offerings, and Animal Collective is incredible in so many ways and along so many different sonic variations. Their overwhelming lyrical positivity and intensely personal feel has changed the way that I see music. But this album acknowledges another side of our nature: the ambivalent swampy isolation of being a living, thinking being.

[Musically]
I think it worth saying that I am not usually a fan of ambient music, and do not want to confuse the issue: this disc creates an atmosphere, but not through a lack of structure or endless droning electronics. Like a lot of Avey/Animal Collective music, there are moments of cacophony that take multiple listens to tease apart into meaningful wholes, but the 'story' of this album, its thematic presence, has a way of compelling the listener with the promise of something different - if not greater - than resolution to an accesible hook.

I have read many reviews that name one or two songs as being 'stand-out,' but in my mind there is no filler here, and the fact that Tare is even able to weave hooks into the broken and organic atmosphere calls to mind alchemy and magic more than simple musicality.

The initial track features blistering, anguished vocals that make cannot help but draw the listener's attention and sets the swampy, wet mood that characterizes most of the album. '3 Umbrellas' is a relatively upbeat romp through a murky pond, and 'Oliver Twist' pulls the energy in a darker direction again, dripping vocals and drumbeats balanced deftly atop throbbing bass that is more reminiscent of dubstep than I've heard on any Collective album thusfar. 'Glass Bottom Boat' takes the form of a brief atmospheric interlude, a boat ride punctuated by the calls of unseen electronic creatures. It serves as a welcome break before the quite listenable 'Ghost of Books' and the quiet, tentative sound of 'Cemetaries.' 'Heads Hammock' is one of the oft-mentioned 'singles' on the album and brings back some of the energetic movement of 'Oliver Twist.'

The next two songs seem to indicate a break in the theme; 'Heather in the Hospital' is surprisingly direct in its lyricism and I have to admit a certain dislike for the otherwise accessible track as it seems to pull the listener from the swamps and back to concrete reality in time for the ringing capstone, 'Lucky 1.' I have no doubt that this change in mood is intentional, but by the time Avey gives us a way out, I find myself wanting to stay in the watery beats and dense undergrowth to the degree that the album's resolution comes as an unwelcome shock to the senses. But who am I to complain - it's a rare album that makes you want to rest in its interior instead of moving to the next hook.

If you have never listened to Animal Collective or Panda Bear (and would consider $15 'wasted' when discovering new music), I would be tempted to tell the buyer to give the more accesible 'Person Pitch' or 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' a try. Those CDs could certainly help lay the groundwork for this bit of experimentation. Then again, if you're willing to lay back and let this disc work its magic without too many preconceptions about what constitutes song structure or what content music 'should' be written about, I think that this disc would stand alone from Panda and the Collective without any trouble, even to new listeners.

I think it's an amazing personal and musical experience, and I can't wait to hear it again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Sound, February 19, 2011
This review is from: Down There (MP3 Music)
Who knew what was going to follow the AC breakout album MPP. Luckily Avey had not run out of musical ideas. His debut solo album, Down There, was released nearly 4 months ago with barely any recognition or praise from alternative based music publications. So I was eager to find out how much attention and how many ratings had been awarded on amazon.com. Unfortunately, it seemed to have reflected it's overall media impact. I would be interested in knowing how many copies have been sold since it's release.
The album:
both the first track - Laughing Hieroglyphic
and 3 Umbrellas were the first two songs to move me and cause me to
cry. I've never experienced this kind of emotional reaction from listening to music. I had never felt the pain heard by Avey's voice in the first song, and i've never heard anything so happy and wonderful as the 2nd track. The agony and joy found in his voice is so human, so beautiful and sad that when I really focus solely on the music, all I could do was cry. Some of the tracks on this album are pure genius [masterpiece]. track 1, 2 and 5 alone, make this one of the best records ever, the songs left over are not nearly as good to me. this is such amazing album, just give it a listen. You'll find yourself singing along on the first song, not remembering when you had felt such emotion come through the music. Hopefully you will come to value this album as I have.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars glorious swamp music, December 14, 2010
This review is from: Down There (Audio CD)
Down There is a step away from Animal Collective but in a wonderful new direction. Theres somewhat of a darker feel, but with Avey's chanting voice and haunting background sounds, Down There takes you into another world. A big fan of AC, and Avey and Panda's side projects, I highly suggest you check out this album. On a rainy overcast day, this album is glorious!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Down There: A new environment for Portner., August 12, 2014
This review is from: Down There (Vinyl)
Avey Tare's 2010 solo record 'Down There' is an album that focuses on individuality rather than a broader topic such as a past relationship with a girlfriend or a larger group of people. Avey Tare, (David Portner), mastermind and ringleader of the experimental rock group Animal Collective released 'Down There' with the expected help of bandmate Josh Dibb, AKA Deakin. 'Down There' is a very unique listen, as it focuses on one single dreamscape, a murky swamp. This dreamscape carries itself throughout the entire album. Portner successfully keeps this murky swamp-feel consistent on every song. Upon the release of 'Down There', Animal Collective fans expected a lot from Portner. Noting his previous high success with Merriweather Post Pavilion, fans of the band expected some new and experimental work. Although Portner was successful in experimenting with new genres and sounds, he experienced some unfortunate events whilst creating the songs for this record. Portner divorced his wife, his sister contracted cancer of the tear ducts, and his grandmother passed away. Some of these events carry themselves out onto certain songs specifically, although the entire record is built around these unfortunate events. Prior to the release of Down There, Portner would dress up as a crocodile to promote his new record. This acted as a way to separate himself from the happiness of his regular life and as a way to reflect on the events he was living through at this time. Opener "Laughing Hieroglyphic" opens up with distorted sample vocals and an electric accordion, followed by a simple electronic drum beat and Portner's aching vocals. Playful "3 Umbrellas" kicks in with a keyboard and bass that gets swallowed up into the mix. Portner successfully pulls off a rendition of a dubstep track with "Oliver Twist." Other highlights include "Heads Hammock", "Heather in the Hospital" and "Lucky 1". The only minor issue I have with this record, which doesn't have much of an effect, is that some of these songs do not develop the way that they usually do with Animal Collective songs. Whatever you hear at the beginning of each track basically stays with the rest of the track throughout. However, this record was definitely interesting and enjoyable for me. I recommend it to any experimental music listener.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just Fabulous, October 11, 2013
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This review is from: Down There (MP3 Music)
Amazing album. I'm always in the mood for Avey Tare. I saw him live in SF when he opened for Deerhunter, and the sound was incredible. You won't be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brand new condition, August 10, 2013
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This review is from: Down There (Vinyl)
super gr8 and perfect condition you should all buy it now its a whole new experience on vinyl 0 0
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5.0 out of 5 stars Autumn, May 11, 2012
This review is from: Down There (Vinyl)
This is the perfect album for the days leading up to Halloween. The music is beautiful and melancholy, but still retains some of Avey's bounciness. Very underrated in my opinion.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly overlooked grower of an album., January 9, 2011
By 
This review is from: Down There (Audio CD)
As fantastic as some of Animal Collective colleague Noah Lennox's (aka Panda Bear) efforts are, it's unfair that many deaf ears have fallen on Dave Portner's second solo effort. Known for his harsher vocal approach within his flagship band, the songs here aren't as melodically accessible as anything he's been associated with for years. The artwork conjures up darker images right away - crocodile skulls, song-titles that evoke suffering and the afterlife. The first song is a six minute dirge that calls to mind Joy Divisions "Decades" and has a yearning vocal that's as painful as it's affecting. The darker vibes continue throughout with a lot of levity given to warped percussion and vocal lines that drift in and out of the mix dreamily to great effect. If there's any complaint it's that it's too brief and makes me wonder if the parts of Animal Collective are indeed greater than the whole.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars splattery, electronic note-dancing pop, November 4, 2010
This review is from: Down There (Audio CD)
aka David Portner, Panda Bear's partner in Animal Collective, releases his 2nd solo album of
experimental, left-field indie pop explorations. It's a melding of frigid, but embracing, alien
psychedelics with splattery, fun electronic note-dancing and a strangely warm, caring caress of
fractured pop structure...from New York. The press release says it's "...visited regularly by
monks, white widows, and groan toads...", which makes sense when you hear the album.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Avey Gets Down, October 19, 2010
By 
s.t. (Philadelphia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Down There (MP3 Music)
I'm not one to make light of someone's troubles, but I think Avey's recent deviation from blissful domesticity has had a positive effect on his art. I know that most people laud Animal Collective's last two albums, but I can't help but see them as watered-down versions of former masterpieces, made by people now too concerned with banal responsibilities to actually make anything truly challenging.

But then life came along, and *poof* suddenly Avey's marriage is not what it was. Death brushed past too, taking his grandmother away and making plans for his sister as well. Now Avey's art has a purpose. He uses his music to channel this negativity into something magical.

And it's not watered-down Animal Collective, it has its own sense of atmosphere. If anything, it's watered up.

"Down There" is not bleak, but it's dark, dank, and murky, like a bayou haunted by ghosts in a Betty Boop cartoon. The manic energy of Avey's songs in Strawberry Jam pops out occasionally, but his vocals here are more often then not buried and warped by the swirling, belching electronic production that soaks the whole record.

This isn't as out-there as "Here Comes the Indian," but at least it's close to the "Water Curses EP," which was perhaps his band's last nugget of true inspiration. I'm sorry that Avey's going through a bit of a rough spot in his life, but I'm glad that he has rediscovered a need for creative catharsis.

*** Addendum for those who misunderstood my original review ***

I don't mean to sound cold about the details of his personal life, but it's my position that art is more substantial, expressive, and unique when used to cope with life's hardships rather than reflect the minutiae of one's domestic life. This is not limited to Avey or Animal Collective; it's simply the nature of emotional expression. The more emotions, and the stronger the emotions, that go into a piece of art, the more it means to the artist, and the more it sticks with its fans. People may nod their heads to "My Girls," but it will largely be forgotten in a few years by most of the fans AC have recently picked up. The new stuff's easy on the ears, fun, and....inconsequential. It's fluff. There's not enough emotion to invest in. Just domestic pleasantries and a nice beat.

I don't want the AC gang to live miserable lives; it's nice that they've found some balance. But now that they're happy campers, their music expresses nothing but satiety. Formerly restless artists who've found contentment have the option of not ruining their brand, you know. But these guys seem to think that what they have to express is still worthy of communication. Having connected very strongly with their previous efforts to express themselves, of course I was inclined to give their new stuff a chance, and was disappointed. They of course have a right to put out what they want, but I have a right to complain about the deterioration of their art.

It's not even that I'm some miserable old crank who looks down on fluffy pop music; it's just that the AC crew have largely switched roles from creative artists to something less inspired. With the release of "Down There," I felt a return to the old Avey. Not the "sound" of old Animal Collective, but the embrace of music as expressive rite.

In my original review, I was trying to convey the fact that Avey's artistic hunger had diminished in the past few years, but that "Down There" showcased his creativity as a magical force to deal with recent demons of his life. This was an artistic return to form that I very much appreciated.
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Down There
Down There by Avey Tare (Audio CD - 2010)
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