Gang Gang Dance – Kazuashita (UK import)


Following 2011’s widely lauded Eye Contact, Gang Gang Dance largely disappeared as the bandmembers pursued solo projects — Brian DeGraw‘s 2013 album as bEEdEEgEESUM/ONE, was the most prominent — and just lived their lives. A seven-year gap between albums could be career suicide for many acts, but Kazuashita proves that in this case, it was a rebirth. The importance of taking a break to return better than ever echoes throughout the band’s sixth album, from its hopeful title (a Japanese play on words that means “peace tomorrow,” inspired by the name of one of their friends’ children) to its sanctuary-like sounds. DeGrawLizzi Bougatsos, and Josh Diamond took their time composing these pieces rather than improvising them, and this lengthy creative process is reflected in Kazuashita’s immersive feel. Ambient and new age influences come to the fore on the vast yet caressing finale, “Salve on the Sorrow,” where a gliding harp underscores the track’s blissful intentions and embellishes swathes of guitars and synths. As Gang Gang Dance explore heavy issues and deep concepts with a light touch and effortless flow, they sound more emotionally engaged, and nuanced, than ever. On “J-Tree,” they combine radiant music with field recordings of a buffalo stampede at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock to majestic and moving effect. While they expand on the calmer moments that took a back seat on their previous albums, Gang Gang Dance don’t trade invention for serenity on Kazuashita. Their mix of rock, electronics, and global music feels particularly organic on the title track, where rumbling tablas and a sprightly African guitar line mingle while artist Oliver Payne calls colors into being in what sounds like a primordial ritual. Similarly, “Young Boy”‘s tropical melody and ricocheting drum rolls and the steamy, bubbling “Snake Dub” prove that Gang Gang Dance’s creative energy is still potent even in their gentlest music. They also make time for the breezy pop that emerged on Saint Dymphna and blossomed on Eye Contact. “Too Much, Too Soon” is a feast of textures — syrupy guitars, droplet synths — anchored by gorgeous harmonies. Meanwhile, Bougatsos‘ vocals shine on the dreamy single “Lotus,” which reflects Gang Gang Dance’s influences on artists such as Grimes. Some of the band’s finest music yet, to say that Kazuashita was worth the wait is an understatement; it’s a timely, necessary expression of hope that also feels like a union of the new and the eternal. Mint.





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