PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Gang Gang Dance Attone for a Seven-Year Long Hiatus with 'Kazuashita'

Returning with an introspective take on their ecstatic psychedelic, worldbeat induced vision for experimental music, Gang Gang Dance reveal that there are levels to this band.

Gang Gang Dance


22 June 2018

In 2011 Gang Gang Dance released their seminal work Eye Contact. Their debut for 4AD was the pinnacle of the band's vision. Starting out in the early 2000s in the New York City scene, the experimental band had released very promising records in Revival of the Shittest, God's Money, and the fantastic Saint Dymphna, before unleashing their magnum opus. The record was direct, yet subtle. It featured long-form compositions that were still immediate. It was hazy, and yet it appeared focused. It was a contradictory album, a paradox in many ways. And just as they produced such a defining work, Gang Gang Dance went into a hiatus that lasted for seven years.

Their return with Kazuashita is met with anticipation, and the band awakens the essence that made their music so unique in the first place. Even in comparison to their previous work, Kazuashita is the band's most ethereal and transcendental moment. The notions of time and space appear to be secondary in this work. The soundscapes and the electronic foundations take over, molding the space in brilliant lights.

The structures that Gang Gang Dance implement are more loose, without however the band going into a complete improvisational mode. Moments like the start of "J-Tree" see the band using these means to make their ethereal presence more pronounced. Another example is the title track, one of the highlights of this work, which undertakes for the first part an ambient approach. At the same time, to solidify this spiritual offering, the band brings in the worldbeat elements, making the progression appear more unorthodox. That can end up in a completely ritualistic progression, but it can also expand a tribal-esque quality. Coupling these elements with non-traditional means in the psychedelic touches, reaching shoegaze territory, and the electronic renditions, the band creates a feeling of pure haze.

Typically, psychedelia and electronic rooted ideas come with an inherent harshness. But Gang Gang Dance produce a work that is both imposing and soothing. The soundscapes are huge, the feedback is ample, and the sound effects add to this depth. But at the same time, the experience carries an ethereal element that makes this journey appear mystical. The voice of Bougatsos within that setting is exquisite. With a very bright tone, she pierces through the haze of shoegaze, playful sound effects and synth waves, to provide an emotional voice for it all. It is the focal point regarding the emotion of the record, and whenever it appears, it forces the soundscapes to unravel around it.

In making a direct comparison between Eye Contact and Kazuashita, at first I considered that Eye Contact had a slight edge. The more defined structures and the immediate qualities of the record are still striking seven years later. But, there is just another layer when it comes to Kazuashita. The more introspective stance that Gang Gang Dance take in this instance reveals a much richer and more impressive depth. The relentless energy has given way to a form of meditation, that reveals a sense of peace and tranquility. The exploration that the band performs in this instance, crazy as it might seem, is more substantial and covers more ground, resulting in a monumental release.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.