Buried within the bizarre collages that make up the sleeve artwork for Gang Gang Dance, the band has been kind enough to include an outline of sorts for their album. Items like “My Throat,” “Drum Hit W/ Clicks,” and “Live Techno” are all listed, with approximate starting points and runtimes as well as details as to how they relate to each other. However, I think the outline must have been an early rough draft, because what I hear on the album bears little resemblance to it.
Rather, the collage artwork itself serves as a much better clue to Gang Gang Dance’s simultaneously maddening and fascinating cacophony. Divided into two tracks (which are then, ostensibly, divided into sub-tracks), Gang Gang Dance features all manner of instrumentation, effects, vocals, and improvisation spliced and cut together with the apparent intention of keeping the listener as uncomfortable and attentive as possible. There’s rarely a moment when the listener isn’t being bombarded by caterwauling vocals undergoing various effects and processing, Middle-Eastern chants, butchered horns, stuttering rhythms, dub inflections, cabaret pianos, and a trainwreck of synths and keys.
The only respite comes when the band, in the midst of their stumbling through junkyards of sonic debris, somehow manage to latch onto a definable groove or rhythm à la Rollerball or Out Hud. The fact that Gang Gang Dance can somehow manage to fashion such sections out of the jagged shards of noise that litter the CD like so much shrapnel only serves to make them all the more intriguing. They’re few and far between, but when you hear the band settling on something tangible and definable, it comes as a relief — maybe, just maybe there might be some method to their considerable madness.
Of course, it’s still a lot to listen to — both tracks average 20 minutes in length — and it will frustrate most listeners. But for some reason, I can’t bring myself to write it off as mere noise and chaos. Truth is, I do find something beguiling and interesting about it all — even if I do spend most of the time scratching my head, wondering just what in the world the band was thinking when they did this or that.