I know what you're thinking. God was doing pretty well for a while there. He'd had a pretty good run back in the Mezasoic era. And he's made some pretty good calls since then, like cashing out of that whole Roman empire thing, and betting on us in the Revolutionary War. But in the last few years he's been putting his money in all the wrong places--record companies, hybrid electric cars, and perhaps worst of all, the movie industry. (When, oh when, are the box office returns going to pick up?)
So after some discussion with his financial advisors, God's decided that the best way to make a few quick bucks right now is to cash in on that whole Gang of Four-cribbing dancepunk fad that was oh so popular to about five people two years ago.
Oh, but you're so wrong! For one, God's doing just fine, thank you very much. And for two, if this is dancepunk, then I'm a legitimate musical-critic-writing-type guy. Which I clearly am not. Therefore, this is not dancepunk.
Allow me to explain. Gang Gang Dance is from New York, yes, and their name may remind you of the wonderful choreography in Sondheim's West Side Story, but the truth be known, Gang Gang Dance are more about making noise, ancient-sounding relics of noise that are cathartic to listen to and occasionally even catchy.
“God's Money V,” boasting the album's most addictive groove, sounds something like the acoustic garbage can version of Aphex Twin's “Acrid Avid Jamshred.” Elsewhere, the band owes a bit to fellow New Yorkers the Animal Collective and ESG, by which I mean that, like those bands, they essentially sound like nothing else before, and yet, at the same time, like everything else before. If that makes any sense. It's sort of like...well, it's hard to...I mean...
Ah, never mind, I'm sure God got it.
In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster
For those of you playing along at home with our dress-up-like-the-music game, this is the part where I want all the grown ups to put on your wolf costumes (wolf shirts will suffice if you don't have a costume), and the youngsters to put on your cutest Peter costumes. That's right, Peter-and-the-Wolf Peter, not Peter-Jennings Peter. I'd like to remind our readers that this can be a fun activity for the whole family. Mothers, fathers, children, pets--everyone can play along.
Alright, is everyone ready? Good. Now everyone put in your Shining CDs (or LPs, if you're that much cooler than everyone else). What's that? You haven't bought yours yet? What are you waiting for? Didn't you see that rating? Yeah, four and a half--I only give those out like 80% of the time. It's okay, go pick it up. Um, it's probably not going to be at the mall. I think you'll need to order it online. I don't know, I'm sure Insound has it. It's okay, we'll all just sit here and wait for yours to arrive in the mail.
Hey everybody, we're back! Anyone do anything interesting this last week? Anyone wish they'd sewn a fly into their wolf suits? Alright, I think we're all ready. Now put your CD in. And...okay, that's nice enough, isn't it? All you Peters, pick up your recorders and pretend to play them. Oh, now isn't that precious? Mothers, aren't you proud of your children? See how this is bringing us all so close together? Isn't it wonderful?
Okay, now wolves, without warning, I want you to devour your Peters. (Hey now, get your minds out of the gutters. I was only suggesting that you eat your children.) Don't be shy. Remember how mad it made you when they kept you up every night teething? Remember how needy they were in the womb? Chomp away! No, make sure you do it feet first though. And children, keep playing, for the love of God, keep playing. Play with all your might. Now wolves, be very careful that you swallow them whole enough that they can continue to play inside your bellies. Yes, that's it, very good. Oh, it's so beautiful! I'm so proud of all of you! Now hold that note, and regurgitate... now! Um, regurgitate now? Hold on.
Rossz Csillag Alatt Született
As you may or may not know, I happen to be RED's lone connection to the rich and textured culture of Hungary. You see, my ancestry on my father's side is entirely Hungarian, and, um, well, we've visited some of his relatives a few times on vacation.
Actually, I'm probably about as connected to Hungary as Aaron Funk (aka Venetian Snares) is. But that didn't stop him from titling his latest album (which roughly translates to Born Under a Bad Star) and all of its songs in Hungarian. And it's not going to stop me from writing the remainder of this review in Hungarian either!
Actually, it is. Hungarian is hard, and doesn't make any sense. So fortunately for all you xenophobes, even though Funk adapts the occasional Hungarian folk song (“Öngyilkos Vasárnap,” or roughly, “Suicidal Sunday”) into his twisted little oeuvre (sorry, that's French, and I don't know how it translates, but I'm required to use it in every tenth review), what little singing/speaking there is on the album is done in English. Otherwise, the album speaks the international language of drill-n-bass.
But what sets this apart from the rest of Funk's catalogue (which can be as thick and abstruse as it is vast) is how obviously labored and heartfelt this all is, and how seriously it takes itself. This is important for an artist like Funk, whose work is often brilliant, but just as often hidden underneath a mire of silliness, grotesqueries, and, to be honest, overmanipulated beats.
This time out, the beats are still there and just as manic as ever, but they are made much more tolerable by the string arrangements that lead up to and accompany them. There are even a few tracks, most notably “Felbomlasztott Mentokocsi” (roughly translated, “An Ambulance Falling to Pieces”) and “Senki Dala” (or “Nobody's Song”) that work marvelously well without any beats at all.
As for the beat offenders, the ones that work the best would probably have to be “Szamár Madár” (or roughly, “Donkey Bird”) and “Hajnal” (or “Dawn”), which even takes a little time to get jazzy before bleeding your ears dry.
That being said, this music is not for everyone, expectant mothers, children under five, the MTV generation, etc... Remekül szórakozik figyelmesen hallgat!