Never To Forget You, Cuddles
I was lying in bed last night making headway on dreaming the dreams I do (hint: mostly about dogs, the kind I think I'd get and the kind I'd ideally get if their temperment didn't concern me so), and I thought, Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished, duh. Now, I wouldn't say it's prime hauntology, but it'd be foolish not to give my favorite band a shot at the matter, wouldn't it? Now, it wasn't for nothing that Animal Collective brought Ariel Pink into their fold, I don't think. Spirit, especially, bears certain resonances with this idea being bandied about: ghostliness as a life of contradiction (present and absent). The title itself is great temporal-existential fuckery: two iterations of the same idea/phenomenon (absence) in the language of the present ("they're gone") and past ("they've vanished") in one sentence. The cover - sketched apparitions in a kind of purgatory - also germane. From the opening strains, we get Avey Tare's voice, obscured and degraded, taken by a gust of noise and that incredibly spooky jogged vocal sample, which has always sounded to me like something caught in a net, a kind of existential glitch. Think of Twin Peaks briefly: "one chants out between two worlds." Throughout the record, the strange mixing job makes it sound like you're somehow outside of the proper scope, outside of the right angle at which to hear the album; it's a slipped disc.
Then of course there's April, who "tells her mother 'I am not afraid of dying in the bathtub'" and later one-ups Bill Murray by actually making it with a ghost: "April and the phantom, they were just like lovers, always sneaking kisses for the weekend." The end of the album-closer "Alvin Row" comes the real chill, a sample of a child exclaiming: "Oh that's funny, my voice didn't come back to me! I'll try it again: Hello? Hello? Oh my goodness! Now my singing voice is gone my singing voice is gone my singing voice is gone my singing voice is gone my singing voice is" and then an abrupt silence. Sampling as seance to raise the faded impression of a child trying to catch his own aural shadow. Think that five times fast. Of course, there's also the whole experience of Campfire Songs, but I don't think it's quite as defensible, or I haven't figured out how to explain it yet. Maybe it's just my better judgment: you've got other things to worry about, right?
Related breaking news in the "Things That Abruptly Made Me Very Melancholy" department: "Later that night, Ariel calls me at home to tell me he has finally deciphered the message we saw painted on his window. It says, 'Ariel I love you, do you really exist?' When he dialed the number, no one answered."