Saturday, 14 May 2011

Recommended music: 'Eye Contact' by Gang Gang Dance

The fifth album from New York's Gang Gang Dance has arrived, and it's a pretty stunning achievement. Immerse yourself in its widescreen, technicolor, 3D sound and you'll find an record that will constantly reward you with its intricacies.

The album starts with a snatch of dialogue - 'I can hear everything, it's everything time' - and then pretty much lives up to that statement, there really is everything in here. This is never more true that with the opening track 'Glass Jar', which is 11 minutes long and is somehow reminiscent of Pink Floyd, Jean-Michel Jarre, The Art of Noise and The Orb, all at the same time.

The vocals sound otherwordly throughout, sometimes they are more just like sounds than words, and it can be hard to tell if Liz Bougatsos is singing in English or a foreign language, or even a made-up one. Effectively her voice becomes another instrument in the mix, although it occasionally breaks out to take centre stage. On 'Adult Goth' there are hints of Kate Bush, particularly her 'King of the Mountain' track. 'Chinese High' starts off sounding like a track from Jarre's 'Souvenir of China' album, before taking a turn down the road marked '80s Japanese electro-pop'. Next, and recycling some of its lyrics from the old 'Mockingbird' song, 'MindKilla' hurtles along at a frantic pace with an offbeat rhythm that propels you along (in a weird case of synchronicity the Mockingbird lyric bit came on my iPod the other day at precisely the moment when a schoolboy walked past me reading a copy of 'To Kill A Mockingbird').

'Romance Layers' features a duet with Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor, who sounds more spaced out and laid back than he ever has before, coming across like a space-age soul singer over the 80s funk background. Then 'Sacer' skips forward to a far east of the future, like music from Blade Runner if the film had been a rose-tinted vision of the future rather than a bleak warning. The track is in memory of artist Dash Snow who died from an overdose in 2009.

Closing track 'Thru and Thru' features the lyric 'Our dreaming space it is open' which is a pretty good tagline for the record as a whole, which definitely has its feet planted somewhere other than on planet Earth. The closing spoken words are 'Live forever', and this uplifting record makes you feel like you possibly could.

'Eye Contact' is out now on 4AD. You can listen to the whole album below, and you really should. It's undoubtedly one of the most strikingly creative things you'll hear all year.

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