Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact

Release Date 09/05/2011 (4AD)

Review by Scott Zverblis

Eye ContactOver the past few years, a few of the most talked-about indie bands have been those making music with a historical sense of mystical drama. Fiery Furnaces, Yeasayer, Grizzly Bear, and Animal Collective, among others, have been variously and inventively appropriating rock ‘n’ roll’s roots in ritualistic sounds.

By and large, they draw upon ideas of the pre-modern (world beat folk and religious chanting), and yet express these ancient ideas through modern forms (synthesizers, electronic textures, heavy echo). Gang Gang Dance are of the better groups that embrace (or should that be tree hug) this polyrhythmic template.

Eye Contact, the band’s first album with 4AD, is jam packed with similar moments of ethnical spiritualism, lightly filtered through walls of  dub-echo and layers of chaotic synth squelches. The album opens with 11-minute epic, ‘Glass  Jar’ with its dreamy, far eastern vibe, which wouldn’t sound out of place coming from Trans Global Underground’s speakers. The mix is gently, gradually taken over by a droning synthetic ambience and Lizzi Bougatsos dream like vocals, which express the desire to merge with nature.

This sense of apprehension lends the album a dramatic flair, best realized in ‘Chinese High’, which features guest vocalist, Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip – reclaiming the tried and tested synthetic handclap and keystroke incantation.

The peak of Eye Contact’s tangible sense of unease, is the pummeling MindKilla – Gang Gang Dance’s darkest moment, transforming Bougatsos’, “Don’t say a word, Mama’s going to buy you a mocking bird”, lyrics into a dark, distorted march.

The New York based band’s wit and inventiveness always manages to avoid any kind of descent into cliché. On the one hand – kooky samples, vocoders and Casio keyboards on pipe organ setting; on the other – so many clever ideas and rich layers of sound crammed into each track that nothing can ever be taken for granted.

Gang Gang Dance channel both a utopian science-fiction sensibility and deep appreciation for mother nature.

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