Customer Reviews: Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished/Danse Manatee
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on November 22, 2003
The simple fact that it has taken three years for anyone to offer an opinion on this album speaks to an enormous injustice against it. The Animal Collective (which has swallowed up both of the artists on this album) is finally getting a bit more attention since the wonderful Campfire Songs, Here Comes the Indian, and this album, along with the incredibly inferior Danse Manetee, being issued by Fat Cat in England. But none of these releases comes close to the style and beauty of this first album. That is probably intentional, and perhaps, a good thing, as the album is so finely crafted and put together that a retread of its territory would almost inevitably be inadequate.
That being said, any recommendation of this album needs to come with a caveat: this is hardly easy listening. It may immediately grab you (as it did me), take a while to settle into, or quite possibly alienate you from the beginning and never reconcile the differences that have separated the two of you. The very first track blasts right out of the gate with incessant high pitched squeals and seemingly random noise bursts, but the track isn't an aggressive onslaught in the vein of Merzbow despite the initial appearance, instead there is a gentle pop song hidden beneath the ostensibly aggressive onslaught. Lyrics of childhood and innocence permeate the noise here and throughout the entire album. This incongruity is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the release. Had Avey Tare and Panda Bear simply picked twee pop or punk noise the album would be much more accessible, but instead they synthesize both genres despite the obvious inherent difficulties in such an undertaking.
The first track's high pitched squeal doesn't last through the whole album and some of the later tracks could probably even be inviting to the most casual listener, but there is always an underlying theme of darkness and noisy abandon, which is certainly intentional as the record's lyrics center around innocence lost... from an almost innocent perspective.
Complicated and beautiful, this is one of the most intricate and interesting albums in recent years and to let it slip into obscurity would be a horribly unfortunate crime. Though it may not be for everyone, the adventurous, and those willing to give an album some time to grow on them, should certainly give this a try.
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on June 14, 2004
Animal Collective are a fun group. It's not hard to be intimidated by their musical sensibilities, but it helps (for myself, anyhow) to view them under the similar spiritual serio-comic light as Mr. Bungle or The Ruins, just to name a couple of bands with that sort-of scatterbrained sense of musical narrative.
The first disc: "Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've vanished" is my favorite of the two. The hushed vocals, catchy melodies, and sparse instrumentation, and sometimes stupefying use of squeals and crackles; all undulating as though it where composed and performed on the sea. It's a bit hypnotic after a while...
These guys certainly know how to put a pop song together, and "April and the Phantom" shows that talent off beautifully(only it's waterlogged)
However, I don't recomend listening to this if you're in a tense mood, or even if, say, you've got sinus trouble or something.
You'll hear some high pitch tones that seems just below a dog whistle's. That high pitched shimmer in "Bat You'll Fly" for example..
I had to turn the treble down just a bit the first time I heard this so I wouldn't get a headache.
The second disc: "Danse Manatee" is more subtle. The sense of humour is still there, but the album has a slightly darker, disturbed quality. You might say I'm still on the fence over it, but I don't feel like I'm wasting my time listening to it.
All in all, this is probably the best place to start if you've ever been curious about Animal Collective.
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Before the Animal Collective was called that (original name: Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist), they were already producing oddball music -- three full-length albums and a live performance. Their first two albums were "Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished," and "Danse Manitee," a pair of radically different experimental albums. One is definitely inspired, while the other is amateurish.

"Danse Manitee" starts off with a strange whining sound, sort of like an electronic disturbance, in the oddly named "A Manatee Dance." That whining continues throughout the song, interrupted by sudden bursts of video-game blips. But the tone changes with the electro-thrash of "Penguin Penguin," an abstract collection of calls and drums, and ambient fuzzpop.

They continue to vary wildly in style throughout the album, noodling through hallucinatory pop, thumping rock interspersed with cries, muted acoustics, and the rippling distortion music, which is likely to give listeners a splitting headache. But there are some solid songs in the second half, like the murky "Throwin' the Round Ball" and folky "Ahhhh Good Country."

"Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished" also opens with high-pitched distortion, which continues in a few songs after that, but it's a much easier album to embrace. After the intro, they launch into a screaming fuzz-rock beginning, which switches into the melodic pop of "April and the Phantom," complete with chirping birds and fast guitar.

From there on, the band tries out a variety of pop styles, all with the background noise and fuzzy edges that Animal Collective fans will expect. There's the gentle piano leading up to a dreamy "Penny Dreadfuls," the creepy Halloweeny "Chocolate Girl," the electro-cricket "Everyone Whistling," and finally finishing up with the twelve-minute pop melody of "Alvin Row," which seamlessly switches from pop to rock to experimental soundscapes.

Like many a double album, these two suffer from a simple problem: One is brilliant, and the other is... well, not. "Danse Manitee" is a fairly good experimental album, with some good electronics and vocals, but there's always the feeling of talented, inexperienced musicians who are just sort of noodling around, and not playing to their strengths. With most songs, there's the feeling that it could have been so much more.

"Spirit They're Gone..." is the reverse. Here, the now-Animal Collective is playing to their strengths -- catchy pop melodies, marinated in experimental sounds and pastoral noises. Basic guitars, drums and pianos are immersed in electronic noise and distortion, bell-like synth, and samples of crickets, birds and other things. And soft, crooning vocals are laid over the whole thing, making the softer songs seem almost lulling.

"Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished" and "Danse Manitee" are worth checking out, whether it's for the experimental pop or for the die-hard Animal Collective fan, wanting to see the band's early days. One is great, while the other merely mediocre.
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on May 29, 2006
I listened to "Spirit They're Gone Spirit, They're Vanished" after the "Dansee Manatee" part of this two-disc re-release of one of my current favorite groups. I must say, I probably won't listen to Dansee Manatee again... And don't immediately dispell me as people who only want to listen to catchy / 100% accessable music all the time.

The reason I didn't like Dansee Manatee that much is because I think these guys were trying to hard to be out of the ordinary. These things should come naturally... and when it does, it defeniatly reflects (see Sonic Youth, Slint, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, etc...) But here, it's just aimless ramblings. I could'nt find a focus point for the album at all.

What impressed me more was the first disc (Spirit...) because it reminded me much more of later work such as Here Comes the Indian. A lot of the tracks were actually quite fantastic, being a trip of a song. Some started off quiet or awkward, but had the knack to turn into something contemporary. The amorphic structures of the songs were pleasing, albeit heard somewhere before. I couldn't help but still feel that this album doesn't stand out nearly as much as Sung Tongs. Although the longer songs (such as alvin row) had a nice adventuristic touch, they weren't memorable.

Overall, I give the album three stars because I can tell Avey Tare and Panda Bear put much effort into it, but the end result simply pales in comparison to their later (and far more accessable) work, not because it's not as accessable, but because it's less focused.
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on November 28, 2011
This is the greatest collection of the most horible, borderline intolerable squeals of feedback and phase artfully melded with the beautiful melodic innocence and naivety of childhood. It's obvious why this isn't a particularly popular album, but it is essential to understanding the true nature of the animal. These are the very ROOTS of the band.(..from infancy to grown up babies)

Now to prove my point-
WEEN is my all-time favorite band, and to this, comparatively, their very first albums (cassettes, actually) kind of suck- or aren't as developed, i should say. Now this is before the Pod, i'm talkin like the crucial squeegie lip, etc. Now i love me some ween with every fiber of my being, even the early "Axis: Bold as Boognish", so that is as painfull for me to say as it is to listen to this album. It's very hard to explain, these albums are just one of those things that has to be experienced.

SHHHHHH! Wanna hear a secret? I know one..... ;)
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on March 13, 2005
I was browsing the "A" section at the music store the other day when I stumbled upon Animal Collective. "I've heard good things about them," I thought, but I had yet to actually hear them. Here's what I now know: They rock! On one hand, this isn't something that you show off to a group of friends in your car. It's just too weird. On the other hand, who needs to show off music to their friends? I'd imagine if people had actually heard this, it would garner similar public response to, say, a David Lynch film; you'll either love it or hate it.

Well, I love it. I think it's because if I was in a band it would sound something like this. I'm basically referring to disc 1, which is also known as "Spirit they're gone spirit they've vanished." Disc two, contrastly, doesn't hold a candle to disc 1. If I was held at gunpoint right now, i'd have to give that one a 3. I've been more than satisfied with disc 1 as is, though. I have no desire to listen to the second disc. Maybe the double disc release as a whole deserves a 4, but thinking about it, disc 1 alone was worth the 18 or 19 bucks.

The music is highly experimental. It starts out admittedly slow. Track 1 is very much a likeable song, yes, but in a My Bloody Valentine lure-to-sleep sort of way. It's also not too nice on the ears as pointed out by my annoyed sister. Track 2 is better, but the album really gets going starting with track 4. All the way through till the end is brilliant. It's got all kinds of influence that as far as I know comes from all over the world. You can not categorize this music. It's good to know that there is a band as creative as Animal Collective out there.

If you've got an open mind this could be a good place to start as it was great for me. I'm looking forward to picking up their other releases, considering this is my only exposure to Animal Collective. Download "Le Rapet" and "Bat you'll fly" and you'll be a fan. I think.
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on October 25, 2009
Fun, sparkly, dense, psychedelic, noisy and beautiful. Frantic rock drumming behind piano, delay-washed guitars, a bright n shiny synth setting that seems to be a part of every song and the vocals sound like Avey Tare and Panda Bear were drunk on happiness (or just on copious drugs).

I don't get the bad reviews of these two records. I'll admit, at first listen, I wasn't that impressed but I would imagine that a lot of people who would enjoy Animal Collective and similar bands will know what I'm talking about when I say that there are so many things that I didn't immediately like or think were worthwhile after the first listen, but then some of those records became some of the best stuff I've ever heard. If you listened to this once, MAYBE twice and quickly disposed of it, then that's a bummer. Give it another chance. I don't really think it's that incredibly dissimilar to their newer stuff so the people on here gabbin' about it just being noise really is beyond me. --- When I first heard things like Venetian Snares and Skinny Puppy and Xiu Xiu, I just thought "What the hell is this!? What is going on!?" But after a few listens and a little more effort on my part to not be so narrow-minded, I fell in love. Don't be scared of challenging music... OR do be scared and be safe and listen to what gets your gourd right away. It's just music anyway. Who really cares, right?
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on December 8, 2015
Two really crazy albums that take a while to warm up to, but definitely worth the sinking in. Love their experimental nature, there is certainly no band quite like Animal Collective.
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on September 17, 2009
This re-released double cd is a great example of animal collective's roots. Their first release, Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished, which includes only Avey Tare (David Portner) and Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), is more accessible than some of their other earlier work. It has a very light tone to it and is a nice psychedelic edge to it. Danse Manitee shows their early experimental side. The double disc cd is more for collectors only but the music still shows animal collective's creativity and fans will love hearing their roots as they are very interesting. My only disappointment is that they replaced the original spirit they're gone spirit they've vanished album cover with this one and the only way to get the original is to buy it as a vinyl.
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on April 13, 2011
So Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished is one of my favorite albums ever. It's one of the most unique sounding records I've ever heard. It's got amazing electronics, frantic acoustic strumming, and perfect percussion courtesy of the resident rhythmic mastermind of the AC, Panda Bear. Although these songs were originally just going to be Avey Tare songs, he included Panda's name on the original release, because he was so amazing on drums. That's how good the percussion is. Make sure to check out the fantastic "La Rapet" and the stunning 12 minute closer "Alvin Row".

Danse Manatee is an Avey, Panda and Geologist album. Geologist is all over this album, with a lot more focus put on the sonic environments. It's significantlly less accessible than Sprit, but don't let that keep you from giving it a thorough listen beautiful melodies can be found beneath the noisy chaos. And Essplode is one seriously good pop song. Also check out "In the Singing Box" and "Lablakely Dress". It's Geo's favorite AC album to date, I believe and it's not as good as Spirit but the great songs are worth all the time spent wading through the sonic textures.

Deal of a lifetime, don't pass it up

This thing would get 5 stars on Spirit alone
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