Review Summary: Silky, but sickeningly sweet in equal measure.
Normally when embarking on a new review of a record that I actually like, standard procedure would be to list what’s so great about it before providing a contrasting smaller collection of points about what holds it back from being perfect. However, in Kazuashita
, Gang Gang Dance have created a record that throws together a multitude of uncomfortable distractions that somehow come together to form a surprisingly cohesive (if often a little overcooked) and enjoyable album. Therefore, structurally it feels only right to flip this structural concept upside down.
Most significantly, Kazuashita
is capable of provoking a real and overbearing nausea. This doesn’t entirely come from the overtly saccharine chipmunk vocals, which have been consistently so unevenly mixed throughout the record that they can often leave the listener waiting for an instrumental break to catch their breath - the most infuriating example of this would be the closing 90 seconds of ‘Too Much, Too Soon’, which would be a heavenly slice of atmospheric synth were it not for the constant moaning over the top of it. For a vocal section that is never presented remotely raw, one can’t help but think some studio engineering could make it sound a touch more tuneful. Nor is it the sole fault of the seemingly randomized interval tracks, which chip away at the immersion of the experience with scant regard for flow. ‘(novae terrae)’ is the worst offender here, which has no thematic link to the track before it and only tangentially runs into the closer, but it is particularly taxing on the listener to attempt to decode a concept through the record as, after the spoken word section, the sung vocals are almost indecipherable.
The most uncomfortable thing about Kazuashita
can only be likened to a sea-sickness. Far too often during the record, the synths get bogged down in over-production, taking atmospheric dousings of reverb to the extreme, throwing in an over-reliance on phaser effects and just washing inconsistently over the listener, highlighted by how infrequently the bass and percussion land any kind of punch.
Amazingly, however, there is at its core a very satisfying listen, and the things that Gang Gang Dance do correctly, they do extremely well. The standout here is assuredly the title track, a lush and immersive piece of Future Sound of London-meets-Aphex Twin chillout with a relentless-but-soothing percussive section that holds the track together immaculately. Other highlights are ‘Lotus’ and ‘Snake Dub’, where once again traditional structure and classic techno style kicks and glitches keep everything ticking over with seemingly effortless ease. It is a shame that these are the fleeting moments - as despite this being a quality listen overall - with a little more consistency, Kazuashita
could be a truly fantastic release, and a compelling reason to still listen to techno in 2018.