Gang Gang Dance: Kazuashita review – shoegazey panglobal dreampop


In 2008, Gang Gang Dance’s breakthrough fourth album, Saint Dymphna, crystallised a manic moment, a time when blogs were abuzz with motley, abrasively joyous collisions of world and dance. Ten years on, and seven since their moody, complex fifth, Eye Contact, the New York trio have shifted to meet a very different global atmosphere, tuning in, as did Björk’s Utopia, to the soothing sounds of a new age revival and filtering them through shoegazey dreampop textures. Single Lotus would fit neatly on one of those 90s Pure Moods compilations, all loose guitar and soft synths, Lizzi Bougatsos’s voice – as beautiful, infuriating and varied as ever – conjuring a panglobal sacred pop. J-Tree builds its bliss slowly, reverbed guitar rolling and crashing, ending in a sample of Standing Rock pipeline protesters jubilantly greeting the arrival of a herd of buffalo. The title track lifts rattling percussion into light, bubbling beats reminiscent of In Sides-era Orbital, as artist Oliver Payne intones colour names in a mesmerising meditation, dispelled by a big breakbeat breakdown.

There’s always, of course, been a hippie undertow to Gang Gang Dance’s mission to forge communion between disparate sounds. “There’s nothing to be scared of,” a child’s voice assures at the end of J-Tree, but though we’re supposed to be past the stage of guilty pleasures in music, pleasurable or otherwise, these sounds (the scent of Enigma and Enya, the glimmer of fire poi in the corner of your eye) still carry a taint of dippy, fantasist indulgence. The band, however, see the album less as an escape, more of an attempt to sire a better world: it’s named after live member Taka Imamura’s new baby, whose name is a play on words roughly translating as “peace tomorrow”. Whether its dreamy palette is progressive or pacifying, Kazuashita undoubtedly brings moments of beautiful respite, not least on closer Salve on the Sorrow, whose floaty fantasy vistas – crashes of drums and trills of harp, Bougatsos’s cooing and whooping like a tropical bird – end hopefully, with the sound of a match flaring.


Emily Mackay

The GuardianTramp

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