Panda Bear, Heaven, London
Tuesday 16 March 2010
Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear, broke through in the UK as a solo artist in 2007 with his third album, Person Pitch. Then last year his band Animal Collective performed the same feat with their latest neo-psychedelic LP, Merriweather Post Pavilion. In the meantime, Lennox has become a much in-demand collaborator.
At Heaven for one third of a brief European tour, Lennox takes the stage alone and apologises for taking his time tuning up before he plays a note. Originally a drummer by trade, these days he has eschewed the skins in favour of digital beats. He wears an electric guitar, and in front of him are keyboards of both varieties. As Panda Bear, Lennox is very much a one-man band. His opening number,“Drone”, is just that: portentous, angular electronica with a bone-shaking bass hum and distinct echoes of Aphex Twin.
For “Surfer’s Hymn”, he wails a Beach Boys harmony over a wash of digital ones and zeroes as the atmospheric (and occasionally discomfiting) video montage loops behind him. This is slow-paced, difficult stuff, half a world away from the joyful pop gems of Merriweather Post Pavilion. There are few familiar songs in this set, but the crowd seems pleased to hear “I’m Not” from Person Pitch, the first recognisable tune of the evening.
Lennox’s solo output doesn’t feature thesort of leftfield pop singles that have made Animal Collective so popular in the past year. But on record – especially Person Pitch – his music is experimental in the very best way. Out of the layers of noise arise frequent moments of clarity and beauty, such as “Ponytail” which sounds like some lost, late Blur single recorded underwater. Or “Comfy in Nautica”, about as sunny and uplifting as anything Brian Wilson ever committed to tape, with a pneumatic drill providing the rhythm section.
Yet live – at least tonight – all this wonderful noise is… just noise. Even Lennox’s intriguing samples are largely lost in the sludge. Perhaps it’s the material: his forthcoming fourth LP, Tomboy (due in September), sounds like it will be darker and less forgiving than its predecessor, if the new songs that make up the bulk of this showare anything to go by. But I’d like to think it’s the unfamiliarity of the compositions and the inadequacy of the sound system instead. Lennox is a hugely exciting artist, but on nights like this you have to admit to yourself that either it was a bit dull, or you just didn’t really “get” it.
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Strictly Come Dancing results: Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan sent home
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Why are the words 'mongol', 'mongoloid' and 'mongy' still bandied about as insults?
Tom DeLonge compares streaming music to killing elephants
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage of Lana Del Rey rape video
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict