Being an Animal Collective follower, I had been waiting to watch ODDSAC for a very long time. The band kept on issuing statements in interviews promising the release date was near, but this project was being postponed indefinitely, to the point it acquired over time the status of legend, something of a godotian expectation never to be fulfilled.
Then the day arrived for the film to be premiered: it made it to the Sundance Festival in January 2010, quite a big achievement for the experimental filmmaker Danny Perez; however, the chances for the European audience to get to see it felt so very improbable and remote at the time. Months passed and I kind of forgot about ODDSAC. The metaphorical water passing under the bridges always flows faster than you think.
When the program for the Reykjavík International Film Festival was published I carefully read it to compile a list of films I should watch. ODDSAC was there. I knew I had heard the title somewhere. ODDSAC… Holy tapdancing Odin, wasn’t ODDSAC the much-fabled Animal Collective film? It was, indeed. So that’s how I fulfilled my not-so-godotian-anymore expectation and I got watch it.
Differently from many Animal Collective fans, those annoying hipsters who consider that bunch of stuck-up dandies at Pitchfork the unerring gurus of alternative and indie music – whatever alternative and indie mean these days – , I sort of imagined what I had to expect from ODDSAC. I wasn’t anticipating neither an extended version of a polished music video nor a leftover from Lynch. Alas, those who were hoping to assist to anything like that, from what I know, were pulling their hair out.
ODDSAC is a synesthetic trip through a carousal of moods, states of mind and impressions. Somebody recycled the term visual album for it, but I think the film’s potential goes well beyond this notion. If you accept it as a visual album, you have anyway to give music a dominant position, which is not the case. Music and images are so strictly connected, even if sometimes with contrasting effects, that is impossible to separate them without dramatically weakening the final result. Sight and hearing are both equally provoked. No narrative is to be sought, as only very loosely a few segments of the film bear any semblance of intellectual reasoning in their composition and arrangement. The crazed anomaly of ODDSAC is only apparent though: despite the illusory sense of randomness and confusion permeating the film, looking at the images as they turn one into another, from a wider point of view we find out that a fluid structure was at the same time manically and lucidly researched. The explosion of colors, and sound, the compelling absence of logical grips, have some recurring themes from which a series of strong stimuli can be perceived by the viewer. Not rationally, mostly emotionally. Lack of communication, travesty of human relationships and problematics connected to these themes seem to have a particular predominance. Subtle criticism of some stereotypes of the American cultural background and irony is also noticeable.
With ODDSAC, Animal Collective of the pre-Feels era make a comeback in all their most powerful and experimentally fervid form. Filmmaker Danny Perez keeps up with the spirit and the pace of the music, creating a visual counterpart that is equally delirious and bold.
Director: Danny Perez
Runtime: 54 minutes