[sic] Magazine

Gang Gang Dance – Kazuashita

They say that age eventually catches up with us all. A whopping seven years on since Eye Contact, [sic] magazine’s album of the year 2011, the artsy Gang Gang Dance collective now return with their sixth LP, Kazuashita, a title that roughly translates from the Japanese as “peace tomorrow”. A notable retreat from that earlier period’s pan-global bangers, Kazuashita’s an album that uses its hooks sparingly in the face of what once was. Then the founding trio simultaneously swashbuckled their way through calypso programming, Middle Eastern grooves, curry house bhangra, jazzy inflections and God knows what else. Kazuashita can’t help but feel safe in comparison, which is a strange thing to say considering how much is still going on.

A suite parsed by three 90-second interludes resplendent in MIDI strings, experimental oscillations, alien vocal effects and sci-fi shimmer, there’s a strong political undercurrent to Kazuashita, the title of one of these palate cleansers, “(infirma terrae)”, making it more explicit by suggesting at the unsteadiness of the current world order, or the breaking up of it entirely depending how far down the worm hole you want to go. Undisputed album highlight “Young Boy (Marika in Amerika)” makes the most of this unease, taking its inspiration from protests against police brutality. Exactly what we want from GGD, it drops blunt-force sub-bass, stuttering drum-machine rips and a delightfully swaying skitter from new-age synths. Bathed in scrambled electronic interference, it’s exciting, exotic and unexpected. From here, sadly, it’s a slow trundle downhill though.

Understandably more sombre considering its vocal samples of Shiyé Bidzííl of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe talking about the over-the-top police response at the Dakota Access Pipeline, the overlong “J-TREE” deploys a watery palette of synths and fuzzy keys a touch too tastefully despite Bougatsos’s ever-unintelligible, swooping Elizabeth Fraser interpretation. Put to better use on lead single “Lotus”, pillowy beats and poppy, out-of-focus synths conjure glossy alt-pop mirages in awe of the suitably otherworldly artwork … yet what follows is a return of the wishy-washy world-beat improv of the early 2000s, Balearic tribalism, garagey 2-step and Kate Bush melodrama. It’s not very modern; it’s not very retro. Timeless as ever, sure, compositionally skilled in places too, but the problem is it’s a bit dull too. Maybe this is the price of having raised the bar so high previously.

Best track: “Young Boy (Marika in Amerika)”

~Kazuashita is out now via 4AD.~