Avey Tare (David Portner) quietly recorded and released his own solo album, Down There. dark and dense, it's an album that Portner clearly made during a time of intensely negative emotions. the "there" that the album's title refers to is hell. way down there.
his hell isn't the fiery hell that normally comes to mind though. the hell that the Animal Collective songwriter has envisioned and recreated here is damp and dreary, complete with swamp sounds and bog beats, not to mention the alligator head featured on the album's cover (and in his press photo). this hell more closely resembles Hades, the underworld of Greek mythology, one with 5 rivers including the river Styx. in the opening seconds of "Glass Bottom Boat" a warped voice asks "Hey, do you know how to get to that cemetery over there?" to which another replies "Sure, I can get you over there. Just step into my boat here." this second voice is Charon, the river's ferryman.
the album begins with "Laughing Hieroglyphic," a song that, halfway through, states "My heart is a nurse / But my tongues in a blender / Now its become something creative / I know it's not much but just let it right into your gut." this, to me, serves as the album's thesis. over the course of the writing process, Portner has dealt with the death of his grandmother, his sister's battle with cancer, as well as a break-up with his wife. this underworld is his innerworld. later in the song, Portner says "The lion in your dreams, the lion is good for your dreams." this is likely a nod to the song "Lion in a Coma" off of AC's latest Merriweather Post Pavilion, a song written and sung by Portner, and a possible sign of things to come.
other standouts include "Oliver Twist," a foot-stomper that feels like it shouldn't be so danceable, and "Heather in the Hospital," which describes the scenery in the hospital in which his sister Abby overcame her fight with cancer. Abby is fine now, by the way, and created the video for "Lucky 1," below.
Avey Tare - Laughing Hieroglyphic
Avey Tare - Oliver Twist
Animal Collective - Lion in a Coma from Merriweather Post Pavilion