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Saturday, September 20, 2008

GANG GANG DANCE - Recomended!

Brooklyn's brightest and hippest continue to embrace art-spattered tribal riddims with studied zeal, and it seems like every other week another wild-eyed troupe of trendy New York shamans surfaces aboard a bubble of gurgling critical blandishment. Gang Gang Dance are one of the bands, along with the likes of Animal Collective and Yeasayer, selected for true unequivocal praise. Their last full-length, 2005's God's Money, was hailed as an experimental album of real depth and wonder, shunning jarring curveballs in favour of painstakingly woven organic sounds. They've come to London's ICA 'Nightclub' to remind us, in lieu of a new LP, what all the fuss is about. Providing rousing support are DFA's Prinzhorn Dance School, who play an energising, punchy set, with songs like 'Crackerjack Docker' favourably Fall-like. At odd moments, their sound is weirdly reminiscent of a rockier, more recognisable version of arch-experimenters The Residents. Perhaps that's just us... Soon Gang Gang Dance take to the stage and after some delicate technical adjustments it's down to business. And frankly, from the off it's not hard to see why they've garnered so much favour. Without pausing for breath, Gang Gang Dance pound and twist and bob and soar through a remarkable set, danceable and mesmerising throughout. Frontwoman Liz Bougatsos, decked out in a Missy Elliot/Beyonce/Alicia Keys t-shirt, is an irrepressible, incandescent figurehead. She is possessed of a tremendous melodic wail, which cuts like a blade through the glorious waves of cymbals and tremolo, on songs like 'Nicoman' and 'Egowar'. This is one of the reasons Gang Gang Dance are so enjoyable. Despite being a band restlessly pursuing experimental avenues, never pausing for a breather, their demeanour is not one of ponderous self-importance, but rather of joyous sonic abandon. Rather than a scowling, over-serious 'artist', the band project an instinctive sense of fun: Bougatsos grinning and dancing throughout the wondrous cacophony, occasionally turning to slam out another layer of rhythm on the drums. The band seems to bristle and teem with ideas and is constantly shooting off in new directions, shifting dramatically from something akin to a turbocharged, artfully mangled take on Europop, to a CAN-style groove. The crowd, somewhat transfixed, are nevertheless compelled to dance and become immersed. The sound seems to flow into every corner of the room. This is the most satisfying kind of avant garde music: the sort that convinces more than it cajoles. The music reaches a crescendo, and is over. A smiled 'thank you' and Gang Gang Dance leave the stage. One reviewer has said of the band that their music comes close to religion. This well-meaning flattery is somewhat misplaced though: they're much more fun than that. - Oliver Stevens in supersweet

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