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The album title, the name of the band and the creepy cover artwork suggest that this debut album from Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks is going to be a homage to horror films of a bygone era - the low budget gore often witnessed on wobbly VHS tapes.
However, despite some eerie moments, this is no journey to the dark side. The band name does seem to be a bit out of step with the actual recorded music, but it does underline that this is not an Avey Tare solo album. Although the songs were originally written by him on an acoustic guitar, he invited Angel Deradoorian (Dirty Projectors) to create some melody lines to flesh them out. They were then joined by drummer Jeremy Hyman - familiar to some from Ponytail and the live set-ups of Dan Deacon and Boredoms - as the trio recorded the re-arranged songs as live, with only minimal overdubs added to the mix.
That last fact is a surprise, as opening track 'A Sender' begins with a synth belch and some weird effects which are hard to imagine being played in live. It sets the tone for the album though, and those sounds act as an unsettling undercurrent to the song itself, which otherwise come across very like an up-tempo Animal Collective tune.
Of course, new projects will always bear the signature of the vocalist and songwriter above the other members and it would be interesting to hear what people who have never heard Animal Collective think of this record.
'Catchy (was Contagious)' sounds exactly like Avey Tare's other band, as does 'That It Won't Grow', until Hyman's savage drumming emerges and lifts it out of pure AnCo territory. In a similar way the lengthy 'Roses on the Window' is embellished by the keyboard and vocal touches added by Angel Deradoorian.
Enter the Slasher House is far from being an Animal Collective album under another name. The likes of 'Blind Babe' does sound like one of their faster tunes, but Hyman's drumming is so central to the song that it helps to distinguish the group as a separate entity.
The spooky touches on 'The Outlaw' work superbly, and the eerie keyboards and Angel's vocals coupled with some creative drumming re-emphasise their independence as a band. There seems to be an odd story at the heart of the song, which makes you pay more attention to what is going on within the complex arrangement.
'Duplex Trip' and 'Your Card' are clever pieces, with shifting bass lines acting in contrast to the spiralling melodies, but both come across as pretty psychedelic drifts rather than anything sinister.
'Little Fang' was the first single, and is a genuine highlight, a catchy pop song with a weirdness at its heart. The detuned backing vocals on the repeated refrain "with the spikes in his head" make sure that it is skewed enough to not get too much radio play. The dynamic 'Modern Days E' and the funky 'Strange Colores' are good songs tucked away towards the end of the album. The latter in particular recalls Dirty Projectors as much as Animal Collective.
Overall Enter the Slasher House is perhaps too subtle to sit amongst the likes of the Cramps, Goblin and Zombie Zombie playing John Carpenter, on your future Halloween playlist. The eeriness only really emerges after a few listens, and the same could be said for the contributions of Angel and Jeremy, but it would be a shame if people just viewed this as an Animal Collective side project, as there is plenty to investigate here.
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