• THE APPLES IN STEREO

    The Apples in Stereo are among the least ridiculously named bands in the Elephant 6 collective, a loose aggregate of likeminded indie-poppers that formed in Georgia and Colorado in the '90s (which also includes Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control). For all of Apples leader Robert Schneider's nutball tendencies — he's invented a non-Pythagorean musical scale and a synthesizer he controls with his brain — the band has consistently cultivated a straightforward pop core, whether dabbling in psych, punk, or electronic surfaces. Their fearless blending of '60s strawberrry alarm textures with contemporary indie rock presaged AnCo's more psychotropic version of the same Avey Tare: I was really into their first record. I think Brian was, too. I don't really think about it for the harmonies, though. I just think about it as being a really sweet psychedelic record.

  • CHET BAKER

    Best known for his distinctive takes on "My Funny Valentine," which he first recorded as a member of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, this white heartthrob crooner and trumpeter epitomized '50s West Coast cool jazz. Before a junk habit torpedoed his career (even as it bolstered his moody image), Baker crafted an indelible style: a gauzy romanticism given palpable shape by his unwavering commitment to melody. Baker is a touchstone for Animal Collective's ability to unite the textural and the tuneful. Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: Syd Barrett

  • THE MAX REBO BAND

    Though named for red ball organ virtuoso Max Rebo (born Siiruulian Phantele on the planet Orto), this legendary combo was actually controlled behind the scenes by Pa'lowick singer Sy Snootles. The band escaped a poorly negotiated lifetime contract with Jabba the Hutt after Luke Skywalker destroyed the gangster's Sail Barge and fled to safety on a pack of stolen banthas. Rebo became a successful Coruscant restaurateur with his Max's Flanth House chain; Snootles died a spice junkie after a series of failed Outer Rim tours. Avey Tare: There was definitely one VHS tape that just got played over and over and over again — all three Star Wars. Like, for me when I was growing up, my cousins and I watched it endlessly. The band on the Jabba the Hutt scene…I just think we liked the groovy-ness of it. And it does seem kind of off and weird and alien. It's done really well.

  • HENK BADINGS

    This Dutch avant-garde composer's fascination with non-traditional harmonies and scales led him to become a pioneer of electronic music. Badings' earliest work expanded the compositional vocabulary by using octatonic and hexatonic scales, but his music became even more forward-thinking in the 1950s, when Badings began experimenting with electronics. A favored technique of Badings' was to combine performances by acoustic instrumentation with musique concrète's manipulation of pre-recorded sounds, often to eerie effects. Geologist: Musique concrète and 20th century classical and synthesizer music were all lumped in together for us because of horror movies. We were like 17, before we could drive.

  • 'ONIBABA'

    In this 1964 Japanese horror film, a stark black-and-white classic, a woman and her daughter-in-law make a living by murdering wayward samurai and selling their weapons and armor. After they enlist the aid of male neighbor, lust and deceit drives the two women apart, and toying with demonic forces ultimately destroys them both. Echoes of Hikaru Hayashi's creepily atmospheric score — comprising little more than Taiko drumming and pigeon coos — can be heard in Animal Collective's sparer, more abstract moments. Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: The Orb

  • BO DIDDLEY

    The bluesiest of rock'n'roll's pioneers taught '60s British Invaders about the R in R&B, stripping away chord changes to accentuate his durable, variable "shave and a haircut" pulse. A visionary of guitar tone, Bo selected his custom-made axes — most notably that "cigar box" Gretsch — with as much an ear for their sonic potential as an eye for aesthetics, and he was among the first rockers to build his own home recording studio. Avey Tare: In terms of thinking about recording and presenting music, Bo Diddley has influenced me more in a recording standpoint. I feel like over the years we'll be in studios and there will be books about classic studios and classic styles of recordings. And it was definitely a thought that came into my mind when we started recording Merriweather, but even more so with [Centipede Hz].

  • ERYKAH BADU

    Donning a headwrap that projected a regal sensibility and echoing Billie Holiday with her slurred jazzy phrasing, Badu epitomized the chill, incense-choked, somewhat spacey vibe of late '90s neo-soul on her 1997 debut Baduizm. More recently, on her 2008 and 2010's New Amerykah albums, she's enveloped herself within a denser, murkier funk, and her preoccupations have grown at once more political and more mystical. Panda Bear: I heard her radio hits and I was like, eh, pretty cool. But then we saw the "Honey" video. I was really into that. This was when we were recording Merriweather Post Pavillion. Then there was some VH1 live performance where she basically played the whole record. We met her since then too. It was really big. We were all really nervous. Avey Tare: From our early period of Dance Manatee, the rhythmic nature of R&B influenced us a lot.

  • KHAIRA ARBY

    A protégé and cousin of African blues guitar master Ali Farka Touré, Khaira Arby has been one of Mali's most celebrated singers for two decades, but was little known in the U.S. before her first American tour in 2010. Singing in four languages, she holds forth with the self-possessed authority and almost Middle Eastern keen common to Mali's greatest female singers, usually over psychedelic guitar lines that swirl and tangle with traditional West African stringed instrumentation. Avey Tare: Josh definitely brought her to everyone's attention. Having just seen Khaira Arby play in L.A., it's just the kind of music that interests me the most — it's kind of like a mystery to me. I think it's how people talk about us: I can't figure out if [her band is] jamming or if they wrote the song, or what parts are even worked out.

  • 'THE COLOR OF POMEGRANATES'

    Directed by Sergei Parajanov, this 1968 Soviet film translates the biography of the martyred Armenian poet Sayat-Nova into a series of vivid, often static, and (to non-Armenians) all but incomprehensible images. Parajanov's use of traditional Armenian religious iconography was out of step with the U.S.S.R.'s commitment to socialist realism, and The Color of Pomegranates was a major reason reason that Parajanov landed in the gulag for four years. The film's trippy effects were a clear influence on Animal Collective's "visual album" ODDSAC. Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center

  • GROUP DOUEH

    Salmou Bamaar, the Western Saharan guitarist who performs as Doueh, says he's a big Hendrix fan. And though you can't hear much of Jimi's style (or anyone else's) in the distorted sandstorms whipped up on the band's 2011 album, Zayna Jumma, Doueh does audibly share his idol's drive to expand his instrument's textural range, pushing the bounds of his virtuosity until it verges on chaos. Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: Kyle Hall

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