Gang Gang Dance, 'Eye Contact' (4AD)

8
Eye Contact
Critical Mass
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Label: 4AD

by Chris Martins

As a proudly underground entity, Manhattan's Gang Gang Dance seemed bent on creating one long celestial psych jam. But for 2008's Saint Dymphna, they pared down the dubby dance experimentation and reaped the rewards (namely, a record deal). Less woozy and intoxicating than its predecessors, that album was a gateway drug into what now turns out to be an even wilder and murkier milieu.

GGD's fifth album and first for 4AD, Eye Contact opens with the 11-minute "Glass Jar," a freewheeling mass of synths, cymbals, and high moans that withholds the beat far beyond the halfway mark. The song also contains a key clue: a man's voice declaring with Sheen-like clarity (and/or inscrutability), "It's everything time."

While Dymphna divvied up the band's influences over ten identifiable songs, here their entire spectrum of styles gets blasted constantly, each track bleeding into the next. Eastern scales, New Age haze, jungle drums, and druggy rave effects create a dense aural whirl that assumes solid form only briefly: Lizzi Bougatsos keening like a Bollywood star gone dancehall ("Chinese High"); the C+C Music Factory crescendo of "Mindkilla"; and the fantastic "Romance Layers," with Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor lounging on abed of house-inflected '90s R&B.

So, Gang Gang Dance are back to testing boundaries. For them, it's a return to the future.

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