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In the midst of 2002, with much of his attention focused on his work with the Brooklyn-based ANIMAL COLLECTIVE, PANDA BEAR stepped aside to a more intimate space to reflect upon the death of his father. The resulting Young Prayer, often coming much closer to classical composition than to the noise/pop experimentations of the ANIMAL COLLECTIVE, is a collection of beautifully personal and introspective songs. Young Prayer, recorded in Panda Bear's childhood home by ANIMAL COLLECTIVE member DEAKIN and further produced by the mysterious ANIMAL COLLECTIVE brothers known as COME WINTER, guarantees a listening experience as interesting as any ANIMAL COLLECTIVE release thus far. A truly soulful album, Young Prayer is both sonically gorgeous and spiritually uplifting.
About the Artist
Instinctively nomadic and musically inquisitive, Panda Bear (Noah) has always been searching the land for inspiration and meaning. As a teenager in his hometown of Baltimore , Panda Bear created his first solo record, the long out-of-print, first (and last) album on his and Deakins (Joshmin) Soccer Star Records. Panda then made his way to University in Boston . Trouble and crazy things happened so he came down to New York at the turn of the millennium to congregate with his recently-convened Animal brethren (Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin). The Animal Collective was born again.
When not working on Animal Collective material, Panda Bear creates lots of music by himself and with Scotty Mou (DJ Casio - Queens ) in Jane. He also makes jams with the other animal bros and Rusty Santos for fashion shows as Together. Never sticking with any particular sound, Pandas range goes from the quiet humble jams of Young Prayer to the songhouse 12"s promised on Paw-Tracks in 2005. Panda Bear currently resides in Lisbon,Portugal.
Selected Discography: Panda Bear S/T (Soccer Star Records) 1999 Avey Tare and Panda Bear Spirit Theyre Gone Spirit Theyve Vanished (Animal) 2000 (reissued by Fat Cat Records) 2003 Animal Collective Here Comes the Indian (Paw Tracks 2003) Animal Collective Sung Tongs (Fat Cat 2004) Panda Bear Young Prayer (Paw Tracks 2004) Jane - 2 self-released cds in 45 sleeve handmaders (2003) Jane 12" (Paw Tracks planned 2005) Panda Bear dances 12"s (Paw Tracks planned 2005)
Top customer reviews
Probably the closest reference point to this release is the Campfire Songs effort that the group put out on the Catsupplate Record label a couple years back. Young Prayer breaths even more than that disc, though, as it most often finds Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) with just himself and an acoustic guitar (and some effects). Written to reflect upon the death of his father, the 10 tracks are given no names and even the vocals are nearly completely indiscernable. In freeing itself of all of the above trappings, the release opens itself up into an almost ritualistic territory.
The opening track finds Lennox singing higher and higher over strummed bursts of guitars that glint with a touch of electronics for punctuation at times while the third track is a short and lovely pairing of deft guitar and piano that feels too short at only a minute long. The centerpoint of the album also finds it at its most upbeat as looped vocal phrases move in a round while clapping and a 4/4 thump keep the track folding in on itself.
As mentioned above, the release is very sparse, but it most often works in favor. In the sixth track, soft vocals and guitars drift in and out as a drum kit is flirted with and subtle electronics float to the surface once as a lovely surprise. Although there is a good amount of variety on the release, it does drag a smidge in places. The five-plus minute high vocals/strummed guitar fourth track sounds similar to many other tracks on the release, but fails to really move in any different directions. If you're a fan of work by the Animal Collective, you'll probably want to check this out, but keep in mind that you'll need a little patience. Fans of experimental/improv folk should also hunt it down.
(from almost cool music reviews)
Listening to these 9 untitled tracks as one cohesive whole has an overwhelming effect on both my senses and consciousness. The music is simply so powerful and beautiful that I have felt it necessary to listen to it only under ideal circumstances, usually with headphones, so that every sonic detail can be picked up and fully appreciated. I would advise potential listeners to do the same, either waiting for or setting up situations conducive to relaxation and reflection, without interruptions. Then, open yourself up and allow this entrancing elegy to be poured into you.
Each track follows a succession that, when considered, seems to be the one necessary arrangement. For instance, although almost none of the vocals consist of understandable lyrics, one can hear Panda Bear at the end of track 1 proclaiming "...this is how I will speak to you..." and "...this is how you will know me." This acts as a perfect lead-in to the rest of the album as a whole. Most tracks are heavily-strummed, lovely, pensive wanderings, but a few stray from this prototype, most notably 5 and 7. The former is a playful, pounding chant, and the latter is a slow, mournful lament with highly-processed vocals. The emotions evoked by each of these miniatures are intense but very difficult to pinpoint. My personal listening experience tends to make me feel completely immersed in my surroundings, contemplative, melancholic and elated (often at the same time!), and extremely nostalgic. This is where the title comes in: this music is simply bursting at the seams with all the joy and the pain, all the wonder and the fear of childhood. In its unabashed youthfulness, it yearns for the soothing presence of a wise and trusted adult, but in the end, it assumes that roll as well. It is the arc of learning to accept something. I will never let this music go.
Now, you can choose to seperate the record from its overwhelming context, but I choose not to. That's like trying to take the South out of Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury". So listening to "Young Prayer" as a man's catharsis and healing place is absolutely essential to the experience itself.
The record consists of eight tracks, all unnamed, which makes it much easier to absorb if you can sit and listen all the way through (which isn't that hard...it's under 30 minutes long, all total). The arrangements are sparse, with guitar, vocals, and selected other instruments taking up the bulk of the album. The lyrics are mostly unintelligable, but what you do feel is how much his father meant to Noah. This is a record that can be emotionally draining if you're not in the right frame of mind.
Ultimitely, however, it serves as a guidepost along the way to those in mourning. In the liner sleeve, Panda Bear dedicates it simply, beautifully; "This is for my father. Goodbye, dad. I hope you are good where you are." Thanks to Panda Bear, we're all a little better off, too.