Comprising a loose collective of avant-garde musicians, Animal Collective was established in New York City by Avey Tare (aka David Porter) and Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox). Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished marked the group's first release in 2000. Issued on the musicians' own Animal imprint, it was the first of a flurry of captivating, occasionally frustrating releases exploring the fringes and intersecting boundaries of folk, noise rock, ambient drone, twisting psychedelia, and -- ultimately -- pure melody.
Joined by their friends Geologist (aka Brian Weitz) and Deakin (aka Conrad Deaken), Tare and Panda Bear released Danse Manatee on the Catsup Plate label in 2001, followed by the live album Hollinndagain, which documented their debut tour alongside Black Dice. Here Comes the Indian (Paw Tracks) was issued in 2003 to considerable acclaim, and the Collective backed it up with the droning, folky simmer of Campfire Songs, again for Catsup Plate. (FatCat also became the group's European sponsor, issuing their first two albums as a package and signing them for subsequent releases.)
Animal Collective returned in May 2004 with Sung Tongs, a mysterious, fragilely melodic album that garnered even more critical acclaim and spawned a series of tours. The Prospect Hummer EP, which featured a collaboration with Vashti Bunyan, appeared in May 2005, and the full-length Feels followed in October of that year. The group moved to Domino for 2007's Strawberry Jam, which earned a surprising showing on the Billboard charts. At the beginning of 2009, the group released their eighth LP, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Solo projects and side-projects have been a continual occupation for most members, including Panda Bear (Young Prayer, Person Pitch) and Avey Tare (Pullhair Rubeye, recorded with his wife, múm's Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir). [AMG Johnny Loftus]