Review Summary: New York City experimental-pop outfit create a world, and genre spanning dance-floor epic.
Strange cover right? Two sets of heavy-handed eyes, both behind masks. One being a gorilla head of sorts, the other a large, random head-dress with cues to any number of markets around the world. Then slapped just slightly northeast, the words, Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna,
are barley present. Interesting album name really, Dymphna being a canonized saint and daughter of an Irish Pagan Chief, a particularly shifty one at that. With her Mother dead, and her father’s subsequent wide-eyed search for another suitable bride coming to an abrupt, unsuccessful halt, the Chief soon turned his eyes toward his darling teen-aged daughter. As one would expect, Dymphy didn’t enjoy Daddy’s advances, and soon, she and a few close confidants fled the shores of her Irish home for the less personally invading confines of Belgium. Soon enough though, her father caught wind of her escape and followed, eventually cornering her at a Flemish church, where after he slays her followers, she refutes his declaration of love once more…and ends up losing her head for it. Effectively being martyred, and now she’s since viewed as the patron Saint of Mental Illness (causes, patients and doctors), runaways, and incest victims -- no ***. So what exactly does this cover image, and that story have to do with one another, really
? Nothing. But when concerning Gang Gang Dance themselves, Saint Dymphna
presents a vibrant, versatile mix of earthy, tribal, sound scapes that exhibit as much in hooks and replay-ability as they do in listening challenge. Further more, how difficult it is to pin what you’re hearing down to anything more specific than severely danceable world music
. All the while sounding as though if they weren’t created at some Ritual of the Solstice, where we all dance on a moon-lit hill during the equinox; that someone should seriously consider having these guys committed.
Upon first listen, Dymphna
rings true to the cannon of freak-folk, and waves it’s weirdo-flag free. With influences ranging from African Big Band and classic Ska all the way to ambient house and dub-step, Gang Gang Dance truly convey a unique sound, while still maintaining their holds to home. But make no mistake, this Saint
is a globe-trotter, with a multicultural spirit, that‘s hard to pigeon-hole. While they too, may sound similar, adding The Knife tag, or Animal Collective signet wouldn’t help much to sonically classify either. Considering that if, for some reason, Gang Gang Dance does
in fact sound like -insert your favorite band- at any point, it’s only for a matter of seconds here, or a concentrated flourish there. Truthfully, Saint Dymphna
does almost all it can to not
sound like everything else you’re hearing, and considering these guys arose from the Dance-Punk-Noise scene that erupted in the American North East during the beginning of last decade(any many other following.) One that gave us such “modern icons” as James Murphy, TV On The Radio, and Lightning Bolt -- it’s not only impressive that they don’t sound like their close peers, but they’re doing this while almost everyone else around them is seemingly trying to rip those song books as though it were a life-or-death situation. Dymphna’s
strength really resides in the fact that Gang Gang not only choose their inspiration wisely, but they’re motivated to make it a success, and to get your ass shaking. Musical disasters and experimentations that are well known to be covered in red-tape and do not enter
signs are prevalent all over Saint Dymphna
, but miraculously, it works. Furthermore they flaunt these influences of big beat, tribal house, and ambient-post-pop promptly attached to sleeve, with what seems like little to no distinction for what you may think. Thankfully, in the end, it all adds up.
It could be that summation of parts that gives Dymphna
such replay value, and an almost ease to settle into once you’ve familiarized yourself with the ways of Gang Gang. Basically the aspect of the album which doesn’t allow you to specify it’s musical origins, along with the fact that you’ve not heard this, by way of hearing it all before, makes Saint Dymphna
feel fresh, while also nestling in close to home. Like the local Tapas bar down the street, offering you foreign taste with local hospitality, Gang Gang‘s music possess the same quality of expanse meets locality. The warm afro beats of “First Communion” and “Dust” counter act the cold electronics of “Blue Nile” and “Inner Pace,” while bangers “Princes” and "House Jam" just make you dance. This ability to basically deviate any which way with any number of musical palettes so well gives each song a sense of teetering madness, as though it were a fine line they were walking between soaring and ***. But Gang Gang are able to balance all the chaos, controlling it into a palpable beat, or infectious groove, that is above all other things, as playable on the dance floor as it is in your headphones. Which is important really, because at the end of the night, when you’re muscles are aching, your mind is weary and you’re full fledged ready to collapse a top anything resembling a comfy surface,
it’s nice to have that same music that kept you wired for so long now be putting your mind at ease.