Published Apr 17, 2014As the co-frontman for Animal Collective, Avey Tare (real name Dave Portner) has spent over a decade antagonizing listeners with an array of galloping galumps and beats that go bump in the night.
Yet for his second LP — and first as jazz power trio Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks — Portner decided to dial back on his cold and calculated compositions, consciously steering away from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque sounds that made his previous albums such a success and looking to horror for aesthetic inspiration alone.
"Since I was real young, there's always been a playful side to horror films," he says. "As much as I think some horror movies like The Shining and The Exorcist are great movies, there's a side to horror — like B-movies, with all the cheap effects — that just becomes more of an artistic expression for me, just a purely visual expression."
It's those primitive and unhinged attempts at artistry that provide the basis for Enter the Slasher House, an album that seemingly explores the stylistic similarities between '70s free jazz and the sensational slasher films that helped dominate that decade.
Although only emerging as a live band over the past year and a half, the idea for Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks first bloomed back in 2011 when Portner began toying with the idea of using a live band to recreate his 2010 solo debut, Down There.
"For some reason the idea of the trio appealed to me a lot in terms of playing songs," he says. "Just to have the power of what the three people are doing be the ground force of the music."
With the work of Tobe Hooper and Herbie Hancock occupying equal parts of his mind, Portner began experimenting at his Silver Lake home with Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman and ex-Dirty Projectors multi-instrumentalist (and current romantic partner) Angel Deradoorian. The result was the makings of a record that valued experimentation and energy — unlike previous Animal Collective releases — over production and precision, a feeling that carried over to the band's studio sessions at the Lair Recording Studio in Culver City this past summer.
"So much music these days is production-oriented," Portner says, citing an emphasis this time around on the one-take recording philosophies of early jazz and rock'n'roll artists like Miles Davis, Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley. "That's fine, and a lot of it sounds good, but it tends to lose the energy and a lot of the space that used to be a big part of music."
While his recording process may seem like a nightmare to some, Portner says it's that mad "house of horror, funhouse vibe" that drove the creative process behind Enter the Slasher House, as well as the majority of his music.
"That's just how I sort of picture putting the record together, these sorts of twists and turns," he says. "I feel like I approach music in that way, where there's always these little things hidden and mystery — you need to check it out more than once to get a full scope of everything that's in there."