Ratatat

    Someday, there will be a Ratatat songbook: big black ink splotches for blots of bass and beat; scribbles of guitar zing that scratch through the pages; a paint splatter of finger-snaps, rice-rattles and harpsichords.

    Courtesy of Re Up Gang

    But even helter-skelter guitar virtuoso Mike Stroud and producer Evan Mast, lit up in blue laptop glow, couldn’t notate the tangle of instrumental threads in their fraying tapestries. Pulling them apart would be the first obstacle: Like a strangling Chinese finger trap, Mast has so solidly intertwined every synth burp and guitar scream that the cocooning layers are impossible to wrangle loose – not that we would ever want to try. Theirs is the ideal trance, heavy and alert in the same loaded moment.

    Ratatat is such an exhibit in the electro-experimental hall of fame that it’s hard to believe their self-titled debut only dropped three years ago. The album was extremely well-received, laying the stepping stones for remix opportunities with both the Knife, for whom Mast subtracted metallic techno to add deeper, more wobbly drums, and the Shout Out Louds. The duo’s own Ratatat Remixes, Vol. 1 – a copyright-infringing rotation of top-of-their-game rappers like Dizzee Rascal, Ghostface Killah and Jay-Z cut from original tracks and pumped with some Ratatat beat juice – was an underappreciated masterpiece. Even though their heavy-handed, tinny keyboard/subwoofer bump replaced work from the likes of Timbaland and the RZA, the pair mostly bested the greats and shined a whole new kind of light on the concept of the mashup.

    Late-2006’s Classics saw critics split but fans swoon, swathing exponentially more coats of noise onto Ratatat’s powerfully simple beat/guitar formula. But whether or not the new-found grandiose suits particular fancy, it is a triumph in its field – Ratatat puts the spontaneity back in the classic joy of a repetitive beat, in the meantime reminding RJD2’s pussy-pop vocals how live-sampled electronica should sound. And even though they’re not about to try to squeeze dozens of players into the cramped corner stage of Porter’s, Stroud and Mast put on a hell of a show, with a self-crafted graphic slideshow and a flooring riff for every head in the sure-to-be-packed pub.

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