Release Date: Oct 21, 2008
Record label: The Social Registry
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
Until recently Gang Gang Dance was just another name playing vaguely on my musical radar, another one that I was either too busy or too distracted to investigate further. The urge to get involved hit on the back of an enthusiastic recommendation in my local record shop and that was that. I certainly haven't enjoyed losing myself to a record with such blissful abandon for a long while and there have only been a couple of releases this year that have even come close to generating similar levels of pure emotion.
Gang Gang Dance have long flirted with ideas of populist structures and hip-hop rhythms but on their latest record - and the first distributed by Warp - they have successfully channelled those previous experiments with free-form percussion and texture into their most focussed, coherent record to date. It's evident throughout - notably on tracks such as 'First Communion' and 'House Jam' - that the Brooklyn-based group have expanded their sonic palette since last proper full length God's Money, which seemed to sway uncomfortably with its sparse, unpredictable arrangements whereas Saint Dymphna offers genuine moments of hope and salvation amongst the unrest. Elsewhere, detached MIDI programming and untreated synths bring to mind The Knife's stunning Silent Shout LP although, courtesy of some superbly busy drum work and effects-laden guitars, it still sounds only like Gang Gang Dance: ever different, always the same.
GANG GANG DANCENew York avants craft a cathedral-sized cacophonyGang Gang Dance dubbing its latest release Saint Dymphna after the patron saint for the mentally unkempt should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the New York group's disorienting racket of beats from all corners of the world and ethereal noise. The band's last full-length outing, God's Money, was delightfully unhinged; figuring out where one song ended and the next one began was challenging, but ultimately rewarding. Now, some of the fog has lifted and the rapid-fire of drum collages, synthesizer exclamations and the fiery wails of singer Liz Bougatsos are manipulated with a newfound clarity.
The members of Gang Gang Dance are excellent conjugators. Like many of their previous records, Saint Dymphna is an object lesson in how to coalesce manifold genres without collapsing under a weight of influences. They’re one of the few bands that can grab from multiple sources and not sound like they’re wearing oven mitts at the mixing stage. Crucially, they also appear to regard repetition as a stultifying experience, meaning each record bears a distinct character that’s quite unlike anything else they’ve done.Saint Dymphna opens with a skewer of light in the form of “Bebey.” One minute into the song and it’s clear that dance music has exerted an even tighter grip over the band in the years since 2005’s God’s Money.
Brooklyn's Gang Gang Dance is an excellent example of the vibrancy found in the loosely knit underground musical community in New York. Traditionally, the trio has relied heavily on electronics and sampling but has used them to very free-form ends. Influences from Brian Eno to Tetsuo Inoue, and Eastern-tinged world music could be heard in their sprawling textures and ambience-laden warp grooves.
The back cover of Gang Gang Dance's fourth album depicts a man in a white robe and obscuring headscarf, carrying - no, not a backpack filled with explosives, but an amp for an electric guitar. It's a cheeky, provocative image that neatly expresses the Brooklyn quartet's desire to subvert cliche and forge unexpected connections between people and sounds. What that means musically is an album poised between dance and rock, New York abstract electronica and African tribal rhythms, 1980s post-punk-ambient-experimentalism and 21st-century futurism.
This Brooklyn-based experimental quartet have crafted their best record yet, an artfully genre-transcending and forward-thinking masterpiece. [rssbreak] Elements of post-punk, grime, electro, tribal and pop coalesce on Saint Dymphna for a trippy yet totally cohesive end product. The band works beyond vocal and guitar hooks, crafting tight, catchy drumbeats on lead track Bebey and Afoot.
Following up 2005’s God’s Money was bound to be a tricky thing for Gang Gang Dance. Bands that receive such critical acclaim early in their careers uniquely feel the blessing and burden of luck. The positives are obvious enough, but the pressure that accompanies such praise can effectively cancel them out. Attempting to meet expectations can lead to creative deadlock, and even if that is surmounted, backlash is waiting.