The Sound Of Animals Fighting

Tiger & The Duke (Reissue)

Written by: PP on 13/12/2007 18:39:41

The Sound Of Animals Fighting is one of those bands that us reviewers have increasing headaches over because we simply lack the words to describe how their ultra-experimentalist indie rock exactly sounds like. If you'd ask the band itself about the remastered re-issue of their out of print debut album "Tiger & The Duke" and how it sounds like, their answer would probably recite the concept that the album revolves around (main character Duke, and the Captain who runs a ship they are sailing on), followed by a sound description somewhere along the lines of "The cargo of the ship are crazy animals who howl and fight below the deck. Eventually the Captain's sons start a mutiny in which the Captain jumps off the ship." This in musical form, of course. That might sound a bit odd, but after listening to the record it's not an explanation far off from reality. But then again, a band consisting of Anthony Green (Circa Survive), Craig Owens (Chiodos), some RX Bandits members and complemented by a few Finch guys, can hardly go wrong.

Equal Vision has kindly remixed and remastered the debut, as well as thrown in eight completely re-arranged tracks from "Lover, The Lord Has Left Us", some by the band itself, and some by other equally remarkable experimental indie acts such as Portugal. The Man and Technology to make it worthwhile even for those who already own the debut.

I was in for quite a surprise when I first started listening to the record. Having only listened to their second album "Lover, The Lord Has Left Us" and loved its out-of-this world experimental sound world to bits, I was instantly thrown onto my toes when Anthony Green starts the album with some heart scraping screaming in the vein of Saosin's "Translating The Name EP". It was completely unexpected given that their sophomore album was so experimental and soft in its nature, but yet it feels somehow oddly fitting to the sound world of The Sound Of Animals Fighting.

The whole "Tiger & The Duke" experience logically feels like a stepping back from the over the top experimentalism of "Lover, The Lord Has Left Us", given that this album came before. But what's surprising is that instead of the soft harmonies and progressive song structures, the record has a much more post-hardcore vibe to it. The songs are more straight-forward, though still maintaining the insanity of the progressive guitar work and the unmistakable combination of real drumming and samples to the point where you couldn't mistake the band for being anyone other than itself. This even if, like me, you started from the sophomore album and are working your way backwards.

Consisting of an overture and three interludes, the album actually only consists of four real tracks, and each of them are totally different in nature. Rotating between solid post-hardcore riffs and weirdo jazz elements with an indie rock flavor, each track keeps you busy at studying the peculiar effects and the sudden switches between sound levels and even genres. Throw in a spoken-word track "Act 3: Modulate Back To The Tonic" with electronic vocal samples, erratic guitars that erupt and end almost simultaneously, and Anthony's beautiful emo/screamo styled high range singing & screaming, and total confusion as to how the band puts it all together and makes it actually work is certain.

As for the remixes of the "Lover.." tracks, the other bands have done a hell of a good job. For instance, Technology takes "Un'Aria" and "Un'Aria Ancora", both barely 1 minute in length, and somehow manages to re-arrange them into an eight minute track called "Un'Aria Elettronica". Portugal. The Man takes "My Horse Must Lose" and "Skullflower" and inserts their distinct sound into the songs, and let me re-assure you, Portugal. The Man meets The Sound Of Animals Fighting is.. well, the result is freaking weird.

My overall opinion of "Tiger & The Duke" is still a bit unclear, because the stream of complexity and little details that keep on surfacing don't seem to stop even with repeated active listening sessions. Much of the album is really enjoyable and it clearly sets the ground stone for "Lover, The Lord Has Left Us" and possible future albums to allow the band members to experiment with sounds and pursue their creative genius to every conceivable direction. The re-mastering of the record has resulted in a clearer sound, and together with the additional eight freaking weird re-mix tracks by other bands, "Tiger & The Duke" becomes a worthwhile purchase even for those who already own the original - the album is now over two times longer than it used to be!

Download: Act 1: Chasing Suns, My Horse Must Lose (Portugal The Man remix)
For the fans of: Portugal. The Man, RX Bandits, Circa Survive, Saosin, Technology
Listen: Myspace

Release date 26.06.2007
Equal Vision Records
Provided by Target ApS

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