Dubbed the “Ringo Starr” of Animal Collective by Pitchfork writer Stuart Berman, Josh “Deakin” Dibb is definitely the most spotty when it comes to attendance. Having appeared on only half of their 10 records as a group, their most successful record to date, 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, and their latest this year, Painting With, were recorded without him entirely.
In 2009, Deakin started a kickstarter campaign for what would become this record, only seven years later. Booking a trip to Mali and scantly reporting to his funders about the project and it’s ever growing late release, let’s just say the donating fans started to question what their $25,000 investment was going towards. In a later Pitchfork article, Deakin described the delay to be due to “the product of chronic, near-paralyzing self-doubt about the quality of his material and vocal performances”. After donating much of the money to Mali, Deakin silently released Sleep Cycle this past April.
Opening with what sounds like people talking over an angry conveyor belt, Deakin’s Sleep Cycle kicks off a little more foreboding than one might expect. It reminds me of that feeling of dread and regret one gets when you’re 2/3 up the rollercoaster and you fight between trying to remember what you love about rollercoaster’s so much and the “why did I do this?” fear of dying. So it goes without saying that the transition-fade into guitar and light vocals is a bit hard to settle down into.
Sounding like it was recorded in the tiniest yet most reverberant bedroom in the world, Deakin rambles through “Golden Chords” like there’s no reason for the song to ever end, later forced into a fade-out by the end of the track. The next song, “Just Am,” has a similar vibe, where the mood is something like laying in a hammock on some beach planet where the crickets are all mechanical and music is more about landscape than it is writing a “song.”
Even with later tracks, no matter how raucous the drums might get, like on “Footy,” the record still sounds like the chillest soundtrack to a tripped out Lord of the Flies film adaptation. I can understand self-doubt, and wanting to prove yourself as a musician, but after taking a kickstarter campaign and your fans donations seven years past it’s date, and then releasing a 33-minute, six track record/EP that’s more sonically scenic than it is a record of songs, I can’t say that I wasn’t incredibly disappointed.