An Evolution of Music

January 18th, 2010

Gang Gang Dance – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 15, 2010

Gang Gang DanceIf there were an argument to be made for the disappearing geographic lines in music, Gang Gang Dance would be a prime example. They seem to have an endless array of international influences and rotating styles that makes up their eclectic world dance-music sound. Incorporating everything from the hip-hop vocals of UK grime star Tinchy Stryder on “Princes” to an Argentinian pan flute or a broken Casio keyboard, the group deftly mashes it all together over African-influenced rhythms in an attempt to create something entirely their own.

Gang Gand Dance’s songwriting process is evident in their live performance. They are clearly comfortable with the experimental nature of the material from their 2008 album, Saint Dymphna, released by Brooklyn’s own Social Registry Records. Similar to God’s Money, Gang Gang Dance entered the studio with nothing predetermined, instead creating songs on the spot through a lengthy evolving process. Onstage they have an inherent comfort with one another, built on countless practice sessions of blindly creating and channeling something outside themselves. It’s a stream-of-consciousness approach to music, stepping away from the individual and ego.

Just offstage, friends of the band, decked out in crocheted multicolor Mexican ski masks, danced to Jesse Lee’s pounding tribal rhythms, while Liz Bougatsos completed the siren song with mostly raw emotive vocals manipulated with processors of all kinds at her feet. It’s a deliberate antihierarchical take on sound, and they are all equally relevant in their expression. The group ends up truly unclassifiable, with their all-encompassing style easily crossing the lines between dance, experimental and house music. Hearing the songs taking shape and evolving in front of you is a unique experience: It’s never going to exactly happen this way again, and undeniably it’s the sheer energy of their performance that was the draw for the sold-out show. —Jason Dean