Gang Gang Dance

Gang Gang Dance released their self-titled (and initially vinyl-only) sophomore album in 2004 and quietly set alight their singular brand of cavernous, sample-fluent, tribal psychedelia with this tripped out onslaught of free form beat-laden soundscape exploration.

Gang Gang Dance

So, holy shit.  I finally got around to listening to this album.  An album I should have discovered years ago when I was knocked on my ass by God’s Money.  Jesus.  I was waiting until I found the real McCoy, and succeeded in my quest.  I’m so thankful.  This is better than it has any right or percentage of probability to be.  Though leagues more free-form than God’s Money or Saint Dymphna, it’s got far more focus and drive than the murkey Revival of the Shittest.  2 tracks totalling 40 minutes wind through movement after movement like a song-based album broken apart and shuffled into a smooth blend by a mad scientist DJ’s hand, giving ample evidence that the masterly flow of the band’s later efforts didn’t materialize out of the wild blue ether.

So truly odd and uniquely rewarding, I’ll leave it up to the listener to understand my enthusiasm and infatuated prose.  Just hit play and sit back, resist the urge to skip around on the slow-building opener and make sure to note the point, halfway through the second half, when you’ve completely lost track of time and place.  Or don’t.

In memoriam of Charles Bukowski, I had a vodka drink and listened to scandalously good music tonight – then I wrote.  This is the one thing item being shared, however.  And I mean it.  You may feel disoriented, lost, and slightly apprehensive.  But in the end you’ll thank me for that final push, what made you take the plunge.

[the album is somewhat of a rarity but one can obtain it via amazon sellers]

Adventure Time – Dreams of Water Themes

Dreams of Water Themes is the stupendous result of a collaboration between Daedelus and Frosty, who christened themselves Adventure Time and cooked up a nautical stew of jazzy undercurrents, waves of turntablism sampledelia swells and clipped vocal crests, cut through with a crackling, frothy breeze.

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It’s a unique project in the canon of modern beats, with the title and artwork indicating the type of hefty thematic glue unifying this far-flung enterprise – in other words, it’s one of the more cohesive electronic/hiphop releases floating around.  Fans of Daedelus’ opus Denies the Day’s Demise are in for a real treat; this LP hews closer to that record’s heights than any project he’s been involved in before or since.  Loosely roiling keys, dizzy horns, vaguely mideastern strings and incisive, impeccably placed spoken samples drive the narrative thrust, while the constantly evolving yet self-referencing palate keeps two feet planted firmly on the deck through the half-hour-plus of churning beat seas.  There’s a certain whiff of Since I Left You rising off the whole affair, though it’s more respectful nod than straight homage or borrowed nostalgia; the pair acknowledge their forebears in the turntables-set-sail department without constantly reminding us of that towering landmark.  Adventure Time created an ambitious – but consciously playful – musical journey which begs to take listeners out on a freewheeling voyage through the high seas of rhythm exploration.

[sample the whole thing at the last.fm album page, snag a digital copy at 7digital or get the cd at amazon with its attendant cool packaging]

Meanderthals – Desire Lines

Meanderthals are a truly new hybrid project comprised of Norwegian DJ Rune Lindbæk and English duo Idjut Boy, and recently released their hauntingly unified musical cornucopia of a debut album.

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Desire Lines manages to swallow up everything but the kitchen sink, every touchstone of the artists’ collective sound base, while retaining a densely unified sound and singular feel throughout.  The entire trip is anchored by a heavy dub foundation and shrouded in a balaeric beach party ensemble, shot through with airy acoustic and scruffy funk electric guitar.  Darkly futuristic keyboard lines weave into and around breathless moments of sunny ecstasy that lift the eargasm potential far above mere dance floor slow burns.  Every moment is blessed with a loose, jazzy attitude which belies the group’s disconnection from the club and the more introspective nature of this heady excursion.  All of these statements are true, yet merely dance around the compulsively head-nodding appeal of Desire Lines.  This is an album to unwind to, whether out on the town or back at home.  It’s something you’ll end up listening to alone most often, despite the instantly gratifying beats and approachable nature – any friend with a working set of ears would be thankful for an introduction – it’s just too engrossing a listen when surrendering full attention.  One look at the cover art probably gave more of an impression than any of this paragraph, but if you have read this far, take my word that the visuals are certainly representative of the majestically dreamlike beauty captured by this album.

[submit to the sound at boomkat or cd universe - and be sure to show some love at the Meanderthals myspace]

 

Deadbeat – Roots and Wire

Roots and Wire is a wide-scope ambient dub excursion by Montreal/Berlin based artist Deadbeat.

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Infused with the sticky, saturated atmosphere of an equatorial chill-out session, you’d be forgiven for assuming the ‘ambient’ part of the tag implies a sleepy listen.  But you’d be wrong – a cornucopia of propulsive beats will get even the most lackadaisical set of hips shaking when the volume is set at a proper level.  This is an album residing happily on a dance floor or your headphones.  It’s the perfect soundtrack for a long drive at night.

Bookended by two tracks featuring wistful reggae vocals of Tikiman, the space between contains all manner of touchstones from dancehall to minimal techno laid upon a deeply dub underpining.  The standout track for me is a an all-out percussion assault named Grounation (Berghain Drum Jack) which reminds me of Gas remixing a Boredoms banger – an exciting revelation.  With a structured flow and unified aesthetic, this is made for album listening.  Once the last track fades out for the first time, the pervasive impression left is of a massive jewel of dub mastery, each track a different facet shot through with the same brilliant light.

[pick this up at amazon and make sure to check out Wagon Repair and Deadbeat's myspace]

Liquid Liquid

This band is the funkiest bunch of white guys to emerge from the fertile early-1980’s NYC no wave scene. Featuring one of the most well-known bass lines in recent history, Liquid Liquid are nonetheless relatively unknown to the wider public.

Liquid Liquid is a self-titled collection of everything essential.

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To wit: if this band were James Brown, Cavern would be their Funky Drummer.  The moment that transcendent rhythm comes to life on the track, you’ll be awash in familiarity and confusion in the same instant.  Is this White Lines (Don’t Do It) by Grandmaster FlashPhenomenon by LL Cool J?  Both.

Despite that track’s endearing, enduring charm, it’s not even the best thing here.  This collection is overstuffed with quality material, ranging from party-ready bangers to truly outré beat and noise explorations.  None of it comes within spitting distance of mainstream pop or modern club music, by any stretch of imagination.  One listen though and you’ll be convinced that the ideas contained are the base root for a wide breadth of modern music, popular and obscure alike.

This LP is actually a set released in 1997 by Grand Royal containing basically everything you could want to hear from the band’s limited output.  First track Optimo will blow you away.  Cavern is next.  You’re now on a dark, funky rollercoaster to the end.

[grab this amazingly fresh and complete set at amazon]

bonus:  Cavern video!

DJ /rupture – Uproot

DJ /rupture is a flat-out musical genius. Preternaturally adept at crafting singularly pure mood explorations whole-cloth out of disparate samples, producer Jace Clayton is nearly as well known for his insightful writing on music.  He’s one of my favorite electronic artists working today.  One of my favorites of all time, in fact.  He’s often lumped in with the humble ‘mash-up dj’ category, which is a grave disservice to the prodigious talent he displays, especially on this album.

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First things first:  just put the album on now, with a set of headphones (or good stereo with some bass presence).  Press play.  Absorb.  This way, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Uproot is an album which feels so cohesively unified, hypnotically of-a-piece that one could be forgiven for assuming it’s not sample-based upon first listen.  Every single moment has so much attention paid to the connections and frictions between beats and vocals, synths and strings, pacing and flow, there are simply no seams in the production.  That fact alone places this lp miles above anything traditionally recognized as ‘mash-up’ – this resides on a level closer to Endtroducing or Avalanches than Girl Talk.

Conjuring the ghosts of reggae, dub, afropop, techno, grimy hip hop, dubstep, idm, and even post rock precedents/outliers like Dif Juz or Seefeel, Uproot is a smoky mix of pulsing, impulsively grounded head-nodding beats and extraterrestrial atmospheres.  Vocals and orchestral phrases shift in and out of the mix while a constant bed of low-end throb envelops perception.  The deeply narcotic sense of comfortable oblivion is overwhelming.

By the final withering reverberation Clayton has taken a journey from flute-peppered break beats through modern avant composers to melancholy post-apocalyptic ambience, conveyed en route by dub ideals and echo-laden empathy.  This is an evolution of the soul.  A journey of the mind.  A fucking incredible mix.

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Note:  when you obtain Uproot the tags may be crazy – a predictable result with complicated artists like this.  For the proper version check (strangely enough) the last.fm page and simply copy what they’ve got.  This will help you know the prominent sample(s) on each track as well as the proper names.

Be sure to read his blog as well:  mudd up!

[purchase this, as Clayton himself offers:  at iTunes or amazon]

Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna is the patron saint of those who suffer from mental illness.  You can find all manner of pop-pyschology diagnoses relating the unique title choice to this undisputable masterpiece of an album, from the lowliest myspace blog to the glossiest of mainstream magazines; I feel that talking about the music itself is probably more relevant.

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Thundering, effervescent, primitive, futuristic, esoteric, immediate, experimental, instinctual, gravitational. This minimal set of semi-opposing descriptors is a quick rundown of the notions flashing through my mind upon first hearing Gang Gang Dance‘s followup to their cavernously percussive rabbit hole of a breakthrough LP, God’s Money.  As far as I remember – it’s been played so much by now that every moment feels woven into the fabric of my musical memory.  Whether driving, partying, or nearly any other activity, it settles into a perfect symbiosys with my surroundings and mood.  It’s truly a rare hybrid on numerous fronts, though that academic compliment is not even hinting at the true appeal of this music.

To get at that point, I’m going to get personal:  The moment this album ended upon first listen, I had the relevatory feeling that I’d discovered something I’d always been looking for.  To be more specific:  this felt, track by track, like a staged unveiling of everything subsconsciously craved but unrealized in my musical life to date.  The perfect sequence of exotic tones and previously unrealized dream melodies coupled with throbbing percussion and a veteran DJ’s sense of contrast and flow give this album the unshakeable aura of something both blindingly fresh and comfortingly primal in the same impossible moment.  This is a dichotomy as frustrating to pin down, yet unrelentingly urgent as the first blush of a new love.

The moment your head is wrapped around the stuccato-beat shambling opener, “First Communion” blows all notions of skittering electro-percussion noise to smithereens with a torrent of undeniable psych pop – like a firehose to a house of matches.  From there you’re dropped into a river of dub, drowned in synth and guitar washes nodding at My Bloody Valentine‘s “I Only Said” then blown through a grime-tinged dubhop track in which the instrumentals perform an intricate dance with the vocalist (Tinchey Stryder),  chasing down ever-bending sonic alleyways, each constantly playing catch-up with the other.  Everything is shattered at this point, with the pieces accumulating like a rolling snowball through cut-up keys & drums into a ramshackle, hulking riddim.  Momentum continues towards an apocalyptic east-meets-west, abstractly political desert landscape of ass-shaking drums and clattering tin cans before finally an oasis is reached:  “House Jam” is like some abnormally strong mint dropped into the clammy breath of insurgent tribalism.  If not for it’s unabashed left-field trajectory, this would be the ‘crossover hit’ mainstream publications are wont to fawn over – thankfully that isn’t the case.  Sounding like a synthesis of “Holiday”-era Madonna and, basically, everything Gang Gang Dance does exceptionally well, it’s a timeless dance track bursting with substantive feeling and unfettered pop deliverance.  The penultimate track follows a typically atmospheric interlude and begs comparison to an especially aggressive Massive Attack burning their way through a warzone en route to some thunderstruck mountaintop.  It’s climactic, drum-rending apex is rivaled by the meditative, Eno-esque final track, where the album imbues you with the kind of authentic serenity gained only via tumultuous, hard-fought journey.

My inadequate rendering of the adventure that is Saint Dymphna is simply here to whet your appetite.  If you’re in any way enticed by the idea of something truly new, a synthesis of disparate ideas cobbled into striking designs, you owe this to yourself.  Don’t take my word for it.  Just hit play and let these wonderful 44 minutes blow the cobwebs from your consciousness.  Something wonderfully, intimately exceptional is afoot.

[purchase via The Social Registry in the US and Warp elsewhere, or simply grab it on amazon]