Centipede Hz is the ninth studio album by American experimental pop group Animal Collective, released on September 4, 2012 on Domino Records. The album marks the return of band member Deakin, who sat out of the recording and touring of the band's previous album, Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009). On the US Billboard 200, it peaked at No. 16.
In November 2010, Deakin rejoined Animal Collective, after sitting out on the recording and touring of the band's eighth studio album, Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009). With the band's fanbase significantly expanded, the four members of Animal Collective moved back to their hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, in early 2011, to begin writing their ninth studio album. Avey Tare noted, "I moved into a house that was blocks away from our high school - it was definitely a little bit weird to feel this mixture of old and new. Just driving the same roads, going to Josh's mom's place. It's pretty much where we all started playing together for days and nights when we were in high school." Deakin elaborated, "Just having the experience of seeing each other every day was what marked this record." Avey Tare elaborates "Yeah, we’d get up every day and just go play for about six or seven hours, then go home. Then the next day we’d do it again. It was like a workshop. The first week or so was just free-form jamming, trying to see what kind of sounds we could conjure up. Then it was clear that we needed more actual songs, so we started to break up the work a little bit — Noah and I might go off and work on some melodies while Josh and Brian might work on some drum sounds. Then we’d come back together and try to combine what we’d been doing. We recorded everything. We all had handheld recorders with us. Then we’d go through the stuff and pick out things that seemed promising, like we might pick out one interesting rhythm and then try to build a melody around it. We might take a section of one jam and try to build a song around it. Everything was labeled — all the recordings — and I think there were 13 or 14 hours of just stuff like that from the first week or so. Much of it wasn’t worth keeping, but out of that material, the new stuff was kind of born."
Almost four years after the album's release, Weitz intimated: "Coming back for Centipede Hz was difficult. It was a super emotional time. Because of the way we set the making of that album up, taking us all to Baltimore, the unsettled nature came out on the record. It was just a very different process from the more easy going one that Merriweather had been. … we wrote it for the stage and, before recording … some of us got set ideas about what songs should sound like and where certain parts should fit in. Then, when we went to ooze all four of those different perspectives together—there weren’t battles, but it did lead to a lot of things staying in the mix."
The album was recorded at Sonic Ranch in January and February 2012 and was mixed at Maze Studios in Atlanta. Ben Allen, who co-produced the group's previous album Merriweather Post Pavilion, returned as the co-producer.
In an interview with Pitchfork Media, Avey Tare called Centipede Hz "more grounded in one location" and less ambient than the group's previous album. The group also wanted the album to have a "live-band feel" to it. In turn, live instruments were used such as a sit-down drum kit and live keyboards. Centipede Hz also featured the first Animal Collective song where Deakin sang lead vocals, on "Wide Eyed."
Where Merriweather Post Pavilion had more of a pop sound, Centipede Hz was a return to Animal Collective's experimental roots. Writers have cited a wide variety of influences on Centipede Hz, including psychedelic rock, garage rock, Chicha music and avant-garde music. For specific bands, writers have cited, among others, Pink Floyd, Portishead, We the People, Milton Nascimento and Zé Ramalho as influences.
Centipede Hz displays a large amount of abrasive vocal styles, mostly from Avey Tare. As Merriweather Post Pavilion showed more of an ambient side to Animal Collective, Centipede Hz features more samples and live instrumentation.
Radio commercials and station identification announcements were additional influences on the album's sound. This influence is reflected in the album's use of radio interference and white noise. Animal Collective got the idea for using radio interference while re-writing the songs on Centipede Hz for a live performance at the 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The group wanted a continuous sound when playing the Centipede Hz songs live, thus they used radio interference to do so. Avey Tare noted, "My brother was a DJ when I was growing up, and there was a radio station called B104 in Baltimore. He had recently got a CD of all the radio identifications that come between , and we were going back through everything, listening to how weird and spacey and experimental it sounded. When you add that element to radio, it's this weird form of musique concrète. We thought it would be cool and also a little funny to have something like "more continuous music" in our live set, just because that's our style of playing.
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