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In Writing

Panda Bear: 100 Good Things in 2007

Panda Bear, whose Person Pitch album was voted third in our Top 50 Albums of 2007 chart, gives his verdict of the year just gone

In March my friends Nelson and Pedro set up a show for me in Lisbon at an old African music disco called Bleza. The people who ran the club were very nice and seemed pleased at the end of the night and that always makes me feel good about how things went. Also some people came from far away (Latvia, I think) to see the show and brought me flowers bunched with leaves and carrots. I wound up giving the carrots and leaves to a man who worked at the place and he was saying he was going to make them in a soup the next day and I figured that was a much better use for them than if I had taken them home.

Pantha du Prince \ This Bliss
While we were mixing the album I got really into these jams. Sometimes when I was listening I would feel things very strongly and I liked that about the music. We met Hendrik (Pantha du Prince) when we played in Paris and he was awesome. A little later on in the night I accidentally spilled most of a small glass of water on his girlfriend and felt really stupid about that but I don’t think it did any harm in the end. Even later Bresson, Dave and I DJed at another club and Hendrik fell a little bit on a low seated broken stool but he was all right.

Practice week
In May Animal Collective ollective toured for three weeks or so around the US to a bunch of cities that we hadn’t been to before mostly because they weren’t on the easiest (and quickest) route around the country. Because we had just finished the album and because we had spent the last two or so years playing the strawberry jams we wanted to get about a set's worth of new songs together for the tour. Even though it was a lot to do in a little time we still had fun doing it (got goofy often) and it came together pretty easy and surely.

John Maus \ don't know the title yet
John had sent the songs for his new album a while before but it took a bit before I heard them. We were on tour (there was a lot of it) in France and were out driving in the rain near a coast and it was in the morning time. Whenever I hear these songs I feel some of that I think and I like it. There is a lot of attention in the songs and they feel soaked and I’m into that for sure. I like the details, like the way the bass bounces with the delayed floor tom sound on one song and the way the synth sounds pulse with the drums on the last part of another and there are intense energies all over. I don’t think this album is out just yet but I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to these songs more than any others this year I should say.

Tour soldiering
We had some tough times on tour this year and some bad things happened but I’m pretty sure that’s par for the course for any touring band so I don’t mean to complain at all. We played more times this year than any other too so we should have expected to hit some roughness. But I feel good about how we dealt with the problems and how we didn’t let them mess us up too bad or get us down too much. We gave a very bad performance one night and I think I felt lamer that night than any other this year and all I wanted to do was to try and play all right the next night. And the next night was all right and the shows on the tour after that were all right too and I’m happy that we just kept going and kept doing our best. I suppose this is where the skateboarding analogy (down below) holds up for me. Also, there were some intense sick times on tour. Brad and I both got it bad in Europe the first time but we kept going and got better. I don’t think I aced every one of those performances (I'd have to stop and gag every other song or so) but I did my best and I’m happy with that. Then more recently Dave got really ill and held on for as long as he could but it became very clear one night that he couldn’t make it happen. We were already at the club and Brian and I figured we could play something and we could play some sort of show so we did. I feel good about how we tried to make the best out of any situation this past year as far as the touring goes and I wont feel bad about the decisions we made. I’d like to have that attitude always with just about everything.

Enjoi video
I really like to skateboard even though I’m no good at it and I really like to watch skateboard videos. Lots of times on aeroplanes or in airports I'll watch them or in the van or whenever just to calm down. Something about the motion and the fluidness of it calms me and makes me feel good. When they’re really good it seems like magic and it's like watching something that’s impossible and watching those impossible moves over and over again is very satisfying for me. I like to see sometimes what it took to get to the finished performance like all the falls and things like that. It's often pretty brutal but I think it's the really going for it and going for it in your own way with your own style that I find so attractive. The going for it and the trying to make impossible magic is what I'd like to be aiming for with music always even though that sounds out there. I’ve been thinking about a lot of similarities between professional skateboarders and professional musicians lately so perhaps this is all just on my mind. But the Enjoi bag of suck video is the one I watched more than any other this year and It's the one I'd return to the most for sure. I like every part of it but for different reasons I would say and some of the parts I didn’t like at first but now they’re my favourite and that’s always a good sign I'd say.

Burial - Untrue
I really liked the first album and this one is more of the same but prettier and with more voices. I think of ghosts when I hear the music and I like that sensation. I really like how he (or she I suppose I really don’t know) does things with the voices and how they’re twisted around and high and then low. Also I’m really into how metallic all the sounds are and how sharp things are and I like how deep it is and how dreamy. I like the simplicity of the words and the small repeated phrases all the time. I feel like this sort of thing is right up my way on many levels if you know what I mean so this is kind of a no brainer if you’ve known me for a bit. Lots of people I’ve talked to who are into all the dubstep music don’t really like this at all and say it’s not dubstep and that’s ok. I suppose I don’t really care what it is I just like it a lot.

Black Dice \ Kokomo song and video
Black Dice are one of my favourite bands for sure and I’ve known them for a while. They took Animal Collective on our first tour and I feel like I learned so much just by watching how they did things and how they treated their situations. I saw this video on the internet while we were away and was so psyched and got really pumped to hear the album although I haven’t just yet. It's kind of a sensory overload but all the images and the way they’re put together are so pleasing that it feels really good to see it. There’s some funny parts in there and I always like that kind of thing so long as its not overblown or over the top if you know what I mean.

Skateboarding in Lisbon
My friend Randy (a Baltimore expat in Lisbon as well) and I went to two parks around Lisbon during the summer. He’s very rarely around town and I haven’t been around much this year either so we had to get it when we could. We went to this one up in a wooded park called Montsanto with his bro from Germany. They’re both much better skaters than I am and so were all the kids that were at the park. I was probably older than any of the kids by at least a good 8 years or so. I tried to drop in on a pretty tender slope right when we got there and panicked when my wheels caught in some cut up wood. I put my hand down to break my fall and skinned it all up but I kept it near my body the rest of the time in shame so no one would see the blood. I’m hard pressed to say whether I felt lamer this day or the night of the really bad show (up above) but I had a really good time rolling around and jumping off a foot high box for most of the day anyways. I’d say its good to get slapped in the face every so often and its good to get hit hard. I ate more than a few slices of humble pie this year but I imagine anyone could say that.

Hanging out with my family
I was away so much that it made the times at home with my family more intensely sweet. I’m at home now and if I’m not playing music or at the computer doing more business or organisational kinds of things then I’m most definitely doing family things. That’s a lot of the time I should say. I like the routines with the kid for sure and mentally it's like washing dishes all day and I like that and I don’t mean it in a bad way at all. There’s no room for my mind to meander towards useless thoughts if you know what I mean. Being with my family - especially this year because the family times were contrasted so heavily and so abruptly with the touring and away times - fully tunes my mind to what matters and what doesn’t matter to me.

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