Gang Gang Dance

Saint Dymphna

Sucking on spare Bounty Killer cuts, striking some maddened new world falsetto, Brooklyn bandits Gang Gang Dance are ravenous magpies lurking round pop’s nether-regions insisting they’ve changed, honed a pop sensibility, blissfully unaware that their decadent clatter is far from any FM fodder. Citing AR Rahman besides Timbaland, Saint Dymphna, their fourth record proper since forming in 2001, has been three years in the making following a suite of misfiring EPs. It’s an erratic affair, occasionally indulgent to the point of nausea only to then warp into the most satisfying avant-garde thrum going, managing to turn in one unholy racket with awkward manoeuvres that are beguiling as they are baffling.

Far removed from their early improvisational works (see the chaos of Revival of the Shittest), Saint Dymphna takes most of its cues from 2005’s God’s Money but adds a sheen finish, picking at mantras more concerned with bickering hooks than percussive tussles. But even their most loyal of followers would’ve been hard push to predict the inclusion of a spot of Bow to events, with grime upstart Tinchy Stryker riding in gallantly on ‘Princes’ with the unlikely proclamation “Oh Shit, Gang Gang”. Given their admitted infatuation with trying to sound like something that might sneak in on to Hot97’s playlist and that ‘Oxygen Demo Riddim’ off their Rawwar EP sounded like a spare Oxide & Neutrino cut and it’s a tad less odd – but only just. Far from pedestrian or a clumsy appropriation, it’s a decent stab at East End dancehall blows, with a marked similarity to the GGD-adoring These New Puritans, before they head off in the direction of ‘Inners Pace’ with its choked experimentalism and entwined Atari epilogues.

Occasionally the record takes a turn up some self-absorbed nu-world side road, sounding not far from what you imagine Enya would sound like brought up on gabba. ‘Blue Nile’’s methodical Bhangra fondling errs close to late 90s easy listening, while ‘Vaccum’ sucks hard on dubious Baleariac chimes, and the anti-commercialism of ‘Afoot’ is just plain dreary. But, if anything, struggling to stomach GGD is more than likely down to Lizzi Bougatsos’s banshee wail, casually managing to shift from the spiritual reawakening of Dead Can Dance to the sound of Kate Bush with a bout of haemorrhoids. While their overindulgence is what gives them such a potent identity, it often leaves undoubted moments of brilliance overshadowed by an attempt to knit in another spare thread. But half the joy to Saint Dymphna, is its unadulterated immoderation. Certain tracks, particularly the instrumentals, work a dream and in ‘First Communication’ they strike gold as far as their aspiration to write some prog-pop juggernaut is concerned.

Named after the patron saint of confusion, you get the sense Gang Gang Dance are wary of their contrary cacophony. At times it’s like embarking on some tantric sex session, getting your stink rubbed until it’s sore and dry. But, with such tyrannical scope, Saint Dymphna’s muddled pot never fails to be anything less than mesmeric. Though it fails to stand out as remarkably adrift as God’s Money, it not only provides the Brooklyn cohort their most unashamedly eclectic release yet but also their most realised record. Only Gang Gang Dance could manage to conjure such a world of contradictions.

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