Gang Gang Dance dropped this slice of fried (and twisted) gold less than a year before their breakthrough masterpiece Saint Dymphna arrived to warp the innocent minds of our youth. (A video project released as a combination dvd/cd, this is the audio portion. You’ll have to buy that dvd yourself to see the insanity.)
In a way, Retina Riddim is even more mindbending – packing in every conceivable rhythmic shift and unexpected sample, every wild percussion tone and dub variation – it’s like a wild roller coaster ride through the band’s collective labyrinthine nightmare, the moment before they awoke and created Saint Dymphna. Stuffed to the gills with middle eastern string sounds, heavy bass thumps, bent and skewed organ swells, and an overwhelming exotic feel, the uninitiated may be forgiven for assuming it’s like any other release from these esoteric primal psych spelunkers. It’s not.
A single uninterrupted 24 minute track, Retina Riddim nearly feels like the band dropped their other albums into a blender and simply poured the resulting fluid into the grooves of an LP as it spun at top volume. Fortunately, repeated listens reveal an intricate structure and flow, a steady build through varying tempos and structures both dizzying and purposeful. Fans of Dymphna in particular will notice several sampledelic building blocks for that masterpiece album embedded throughout this wild ride; some in untreated form, some ready for the spotlight, and some which require a bit of teasing out to reveal their source (or more likely, destination). When the whole package wraps up with an undeniably transcendent part of the later LP (recognizable in the track Vaccuum) confusion is an understandable first thought. Second thought usually goes something like: “I want to hear that again. Now.”