[sic] Magazine

Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

2008 Warp Records
Reviewed by: Indie Dad

That this is the soundtrack to a journey is undeniable but what the journey is, is left to the listener. A voyage to outer or inner space? A night dancing? A night taking drugs? It manages to be a tightrope walk between the genuinely experimental and the pleasurably danceable. The first listen presents something quite “difficult” and Avant Garde but by the second play it has opened out like few albums of the last years.

If Pip Brown as Ladyhawke has synthesized 80s AOR pop into a concentrate of 21st century pop then Gang Gang Dance (after years of jamming and experimentation) have brought us to the very edge of the future of dance music by bringing Indie/DIY aesthetics to the party and mixing in a broth of 80s dance/pop mavericks. Bjork is high on the list though that is more for the vocals than anything. There are metronomic pulses moving in and out with Dub vision (without Dub wibbling) on ‘Bebey’, which also has some Japanese tones. ‘First Communion’ is like something on Factory (A Certain Ratio) with a Cocteau Twins ether applied. ‘Blue Nile’ (maybe the name put me off) is veering dangerously towards the New Age of Enigma but just about gets away with it. The soundscapes of ‘Vacuum’ are similar to LTJ Bukem Drum & Bass. Drum & Bass without the full force is arguably a function of Grime, so suddenly the guest appearance of Grime boy wonder Tinchy Stryder makes perfect sense on Princes. In honesty his vocal appearance is a welcome change from the more “challenging” LZA although he doesn’t exactly blow up. Along with the more organic, Krautrock (say Amon Duul II) strains on this album, truly progressive bands (as opposed to Progressive) like Tangerine Dream show influence on 5.

Everything on this album is infused with percussive rhythms which stop it meandering and give the journey structure even when the “colours” are changing from rack to track. Without sounding like a copy of anything they have produced an aural chapter of The Dance Encyclopedia (80s chapter – we’re not talking Funk – and the more trippy and organic side of that. No Chicago, precious little Washington Go-Go). New Order at their most ecstasy soaked. A Guy Called Gerald, Double Dutch, Cabaret Voltaire, Nellee Hooper & The Shamen (don’t laugh, it wasn’t all Ebenezer Goode). We come to last track and are sent on our way with the most spiritual piece – percussive elements are cut up flute noises and Tabla with the odd Steve Hillage-like guitar parts. But there’s a gentle laugh as a party blower is mixed in somewhere to give an Earthly grounding to the bubbling Nirvana.