Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gang Gang Dance | Eye Contact

Gang Gang Dance is an experimental electronic band from Manhattan, NY. They have released several albums over the past decade, displaying an obvious stylistic progression towards accessibility while maintaining their signature eclectic sound. This progression continues with their latest album Eye Contact released via 4AD.

While Eye Contact may be even closer to the center than the group has ever been before, this isn't something you would show to mom or dad. This is still a weird album. However, a big part of the weirdness is due to singer Lizzi's exotic wail that sounds like an Eastern-tinged concoction of Bjork, Kate Bush and that chick from Pony Tail. To the unseasoned listener, this can be a bit off-putting at first. But beyond the vocals are tight and intricate electronic compositions that draw on many genres including club, dance hall, uk underground, R&B and psychedelia.

Eye Contact awakens with the 11-minute opus and first single Glass Jar, which eases in with shimmering whooshy synths, ride cymbal patterns and intermittent spoken word in the background. The song builds and meanders until the 6 minute mark where it then bursts into a modern day electronic jam. Definitely not a track for one with ADD tendencies. But upon subsequent listens nuances of the finely crafted build-up and all-out synth jam are revealed making the track a definite highlight. A risky move, but one that ultimately pays off.

From then on, the album flows nicely from track to track. There is a worldly sound to the music with an emphasis on Eastern melodies and African rhythms. Stand-out track Mindkilla is a club banger with a soca beat that flirts with dance hall and techno - by far my current favorite. Romance Layers featuring Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip brings the intensity down a bit with a chillin R&B beat and soulful vocals. The energy reemerges though, with the penultimate and Bollywood flavored track Sacer and the cap track Thru and Through which features an eerie call to mosque motif at the end of the song.

Overall, Eye Contact is an album that can be listened to front to back without skipping a track. It's more cohesive, concise and focused than it's predecessor Saint Dymphna (2008), with less filler and top-notch production qualities. And clocking in at almost 40 minutes, its welcome doesn't seem overstayed. For me, Gang Gang Dance just gets better with each release. If you like experimental electronic music, give these guys a chance.

Check out Mindkilla below:

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