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White Noise: Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact

Gang Gang Dance are always doing so much. That's why the first few times you listen to one of their albums it just sounds like a condensed mesh of noise. It's also why all of their output so far has been frustratingly inconsistent; when there's so much there, some songs just aren't going to gel for you.

It feels like for the first time in Eye Contact, they've hit the sweet spot. They've always had an unnatural knack for layering just the right amount of different styles and sounds onto a single track; you're always pleasantly surprised but never overloaded; they sound enjoyable and interesting but the music never sinks into a mush of synths. This is a more clean, optimistic album than 2008's St Dymphna, and it feels like a move in the right direction.

I've made two mistakes in listening to the album. The first was that I thought the first half was better than the second half, and the second was that I thought the ∞ interlude tracks were filler. This is definitely an album of two halves, the latter is more slow-burn, but the first bursts into life. Well actually, it doesn't burst so much as slowly warm up for about 6 minutes, after the slightly profound/on the nose line “I can hear everything. It's everything time.” But the warm up is an exquisite journey through a swirling soundscape of synths that gradually develop a fluttering melody that finally, after an achingly long time, explodes with a shining kick into a racing rhythm, anchored in place by Lizzie Bougastos' distinctive vocals.

I could easily describe each track in that much detail and explain why I think it's so wonderful, but I recommend you just listen yourself. They've almost all been highlights for me at one point or another. Adult Goth is a dark and syrupy dance song with one of the most distinctive intros of any track I've heard in a long time. It could well be argued to be the best track the band have ever produced. It goes on with Chinese High's bouncing hark back to St. Dymphna which surfs into a gloriously sunny instrumental, followed by MindKilla's brute force and expert, energetic composition.

The second half of the album is definitely more of a grower. It takes a while to get into those tracks, but each one is just as brilliant as the first. Romance Layers is a gloriously sensual throwback to funk and new-jazz stylings. The next track, Sacer is a wonderfully poppy and oddly haunting cut. These are all bound together by the ∞ tracks which I'd argue serve as brilliant interludes; this is an album to be listened to as a whole.

Closer Thru and Thru is an astonishingly powerful piece of music. The driving beat of the percussion with Bougastos' ethereal warbling and the vaguely video-game sounding 'Egyptian-style' synth somehow transform into a huge, thumping thing which races along beside you. That's what's so special about this album- it is utterly transportative. We are told at the end of this track “Live forever”, and because you've been on this journey with the music the message really hits home.

On this transcendent and exuberant album, Gang Gang Dance have finally done good on their promise to make a solid, consistent LP to display all the skill they've had all along. This album is an absolute stunner, and it's genuinely worth giving a good listen to every track. I could hardly recommend it higher.


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