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Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact album review

Gang Gang Dance, is, according to SPIN “for those who thought Animal Collective was too mainstream.” Make no mistake – they’re right. This underground group from New York proves to be all things avant-rock, a futuristic symphony of sound that is digestible and moody. Their fifth album, Eye Contact, the first album on their new record label with 4AD after ending their 8-year relationship with The Social Registry, was just released on May 10th.

Pitchfork reviews Gang Gang Dance as “evolving into purveyors of pan-cultural body-music, marrying club beats with lyrics about communing with the dead.” Perhaps they are referring to their 11-minute epic and the first song on the album, “Glass Jar.” The song pays homage to their former band-mate, Nathan Maddox, who was tragically killed in 2002 by a lightning bolt while he was admiring the fatal thunderstorm from a rooftop in New York. Another dedication is found in “Sacer”, for Dash Snow, the one-time New York photographer who captured the raw, gritty truths of his wanderings, until his untimely death in a Manhattan hotel room in 2009.

Singer Lizzi Bougatsos evokes a similarity in her sugary sweet pitch like that of Björk. She met Brian DeGraw, Tim Dewit and Josh Diamond, who in 1999 teamed up with film director Harmony Korine for his experimental project SSAB Songs, an album consisting of one single 27-minute track. It’s a zany and likely-paired indicator as to Gang Gang’s part-innocent, part-troubled, overtly out-of-this-world style. Taka Imamura and Jesse Lee make up the other half of GGD, rounding out the melding of what is, no doubt, a very special group of creatives who collaborate with such artistic expression, it’s no surprise this band has a deep relationship with the art community in New York. In some way, it seems to transcend their music, making their artform especially difficult to pigeon-hole.

However, for a group that is, if anything – tribal – Eye Contact seems to envelope what their previous album, Saint Dymphna lacked. It solidifies the panic and trippy, psychedelic explosion that doesn’t stop there – and continues further, reaching higher and higher points, placing you in a jungle in outerspace. In “Thru and Thru”, Gang Gang Dance accomplishes just that, finishing off the song with a voice that whispers: “Live forever.” Other songs like “?” integrate a rich Greek influence. The same can be seen in the interludes “? ?” and “? ? ?”, minute-and-a-half pieces that dip and swirl with the aid a synthesizer. The instrumentation of the keyboard and jazz percussion rattle and shake songs like “Romance Layers” and the spirited “Adult Goth”, which will make you feel like you’re on a high-speed car chase down a windy highway in a foreign city. “Chinese High” is exotic, fun pop.

What can be said for a band that influences so many other groups of their kind, who, meanwhile, have remained so low on the radar? Up-and-already-on-their-way group  Florence + The Machine credits the beats in “Rabbit Heart” from listening to GGD, as does Braid’s “Plath Heart” off their album “Native Speaker.” There is a lush, almost regal quality to Gang Gang Dance’s Eye Contact.

Check out Gang Gang Dance’s website, or ‘like’ them on their Facebook page.

Gang Gang Dance Tour Dates:

May 25 – Primavera Sound Festival – Barcelona, Spain

July 8 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA

July 9 – II Motore – Montreal, QC, Cananda

July 10 – Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto, ON, Canada

July 11 – Grog Shop – Cleveland Heights, OH

July 12 – Outland Live – Columbus, OH

July 13 – Zanzabar – Louisville, KY

July 14 – The Bishop – Bloomington, IN

July 16 – Pitchfork Music Festival – Chicago, IL

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