Gang Gang Dance

    {grate 3.5/4}

    Brooklyn homes its share of odd musical nooks and boho collectives. Borough-beat group Gang Gang Dance’s fourth record, Saint Dymphna, shellacs their sedated tones over the same global hodgepodge that M.I.A. has so thrived on and commercialized, Cost Plus-style. But unlike the worldly Londoner, Gang Gang don’t sample regional beats from various third-world cultures; instead, they borrow time-tested signatures from Asia and Africa with the intention of crafting a version to represent themselves as city dwellers in a new century.

    Dymphna involves laptop tech-tricks, percussive and often processed guitar licks— even smooth, new-age pads to present an experimental variation of an ancient people whose heritage is unknown. “Bebey” begins the spiritual crusade with sparkling chimes and midi gurgles; as a mellow tom-tom cadence joins with the precision of a full-moon bonfire. Once shrill vocalist Liz Bougatsos has synced herself to the thump of “First Communion,” we realize that GGD’s absurd indie-moniker isn’t for cachet; it helps to solidify their image as otherworldly genre-benders who sound as foreign as they are futuristic.

    Concise synth jammer “Vacuum” relies heavily on an orchestra of drum pummels that could be tracked to a number of old civilizations, but their inclusion of laser-gun bleeps and tremolo keys eventually grounds the song in this decade. “House Jam” briefly pays homage to Enya’s use of ethereal voices, but then flips into an aboriginal version of Madonna’s techno period.

    Their synthesis of contradictions finds its unfortunate plateau in the pairing of avant-dance with grime rap on “Princes,” a potentially huge discovery that ends up annoying in its scattered attempt; for now, hip-hop and hipster should never mix like this. Neither should a blatant social statement like “McDonald’s cashiers in a country where cows are sacred” be injected tastelessly into a track that had everything else down pat. Then again, Saint Dymphna’s folksy plea is like the local anti-hero to M.I.A.’s McMusic, reliably tasty but somewhat hollow. The world is probably big enough for both gunshot hooks and alleyway dance parties.

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