Gang Gang Dance

Saint Dymphna

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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. With Saint Dymphna (titled for the patron saint of outsiders), GGD has a made another left turn but this time by turning right, away from the abstract collages and murky post-psychedelic tribal music toward more structured forms of electronic dance music: grime in particular. Gone are the long, sprawling ragged jams of previous albums, replaced with 11 "songs," none more than five-and-a-half minutes. The beauty in this is immediately apparent: the listener encounters the influence of latter day digital dubbers like Mad Scientist and Dub Syndicate in the sprawling sonics on the album opener "Bebey," but that quickly morphs itself into a more rugged, robotic formalism with traces of Kraftwerk, Deutsche Amerikanische Freundschaft, and even Der Plan. This opens the fader gates for the floppy electro-funk of "First Communion," the first track to feature Liz Bougatsos' vocals. Sharded streams of electric guitar wrap themselves around her voice, also adorned by a deep rumbling bass that's fuzzed to the max, and then the winding, melodic, pulsing, electronic synths and a drum kit. It's the beginning of an exotic journey into sound that gets to the aforementioned dancefloor styles in earnest, such as the slower, four to the floor loops on "Blue Nile," and the truly exotic mélange of samples, sprawling void atmospherics. and stretched beats on "Vacuum." Wildly inventive MC Tinchy Stryder is the featured vocalist on "Princes," where grime and dubstep come together in a rhythm collision of startling proportions. There is some room for the truly abstract here as well, but it's in the ambient soundtrack-like "Inners Pace," and more elastic rhythmic construction on "Afoot." But by the time the listener gets to "House Jam" -- which is nothing less than an utterly acid damaged grime track with a "straight" sung vocal by Bougatsos -- she'll wonder if she's really hearing GGD at all. "Desert Storm" winds all of these explorations in a tightly constructed mélange of dubstep, electro, breakbeat science, and freaky trip-hop. GGD claim that this record was influenced by the bombast of reggaeton blasting on N.Y. streets. Maybe so, but the brew they've conjured is their own. It's easily their most fully realized project to date and rather than simply a pastiche, they've managed to create something nearly concrete.

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