Photograph by Brian DeRan

Eye Contact wakes with an utterance, “I can hear everything. It’s everything time.” The Manhattan five-piece Gang Gang Dance then proceed unabashedly into their impressive eleven-minute opener ‘Glass Jar’. If “everything time” has an associated sound, Gang Gang Dance have captured it on Eye Contact, the record emerges fully formed combining ten tracks into a single panoptic composition. Eye Contact is tribal without turning primitive, exotic without growing unfamiliar, grandiose without becoming pastiche. The blend of tracks is striking and constantly kept in check with a myriad of unifying elements ranging from a taught rhythm section and meticulously orchestrated instrumentals to sonic overloads and percussive bombasts. Eye Contact comes nearly three years after the bands previous release Saint Dympha and offers Gang Gang’s most infectious, confident, and memorable experimental freak-out yet. Where Saint Dympha felt inaccessible and disjoint Eye Contact improves with cohesion, clarity, and conviction.  Slated for release this week on 4AD, Eye Contact is ambitiously rewarding, thematically dense, and brazenly hi-fi.

Gang Gang Dance continue to drive African rhythms and Middle Eastern melodies through analogue keyboards and droning organs. Eye Contact is no exception to the bands emblematic style as the record is awash in fidgety arrangements, restless glitch, and innumerable combinations of delays and distort. Liz Burgatsos’ piercing wails tear through ever-present drums and clattering cymbals to provoke relaxed harmonies into maelstroms of chaotic crescendos. Gang Gang weave a mesh of reverb and thumping bass on ‘Adult Goth’ to keep pace with Burgatsos’ thundering growls and shattering cries. The production on Eye Contact is unapologetically polished, manically cheerful, and ardently unwavering. This is nowhere more evident than on the celestial psych trips of ‘MindKilla’. The track is dripping with dub-aesthetics driven to collapse by wrenching snares, leaving things to devolve into an intoxicating Bollywood meets Star Trek stereo assault.

Eye Contact pursues experimentation as each track, with the exception of the three infinity-branded instrumental interludes, tips the scales at five to six minutes. Rightfully so, since the mix of guest appearances, cross-pollination of genres, and diversity of instrumentation require ample room to breathe. Gang Gang Dance have created a record that is as organic as it is mythical; Eye Contact is forest music with glitter. The record is full of references to the ethereal, many circling around the death of bandmate Nathan Maddox, who was struck by lightning in 2002. While eerie symbols abound, Gang Gang remain euphoric, not giving into apocalyptic despair on album closer ‘Thru and Thru’. The track’s aural whirl borrows from Eastern scales and relies on a stomping bassline to drive the dreamy pop highs. Eye Contact creates a contemporary sound from a rich background of influences and does so with resolute confidence. Thoroughly impressive and haunting, Eye Contact is a record you’ll never want to break gaze with.

Gang Gang Dance – MindKilla
Gang Gang Dance – Thru and Thru

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— , May 17, 2011    Comments Off on Gang Gang Dance: Eye Contact
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