Gang Gang Dance occupies a comfortable niche. On Eye Contact, the newest LP by the experimental Manhattan band, Gang Gang Dance finds breathability without sacrificing vitality. With Italian opera samples, dub interludes and big drum/synth combos, the album explores little crevices of the sound that the band took a decade to develop. The five-piece spreads its sound out on the monstrous opening track, “Glass Jar.” The song is punctuated by unintelligible vocal mumblings, yawning synths and swirling percussion. The effect is hypnotic, and it’s remarkable how attention-grabbing a trance can be. “Glass Jar” eventually flows into a stop-start groove, but the six minutes of buildup are more fascinating than they sound. Nearly as interesting is the steel drum breakdown, the instrument reappropriated from its tropical connotations.
Gang Gang Dance strikes a middle ground between gothically oppressive and soporific dub, intelligently avoiding both in favor of a vaguely seductive groove. Eye Contact is gothy and dark, but it doesn’t roll around in the darkness, unlike the albums of some lesser bands of late. It’s an electronic rock album that just happens to be dark. This is a cleaner, more focused iteration of what some call witch house—call it lab-trance?
The album alternates styles; goth-trance in the appropriately-titled “Adult Goth;” house rock in “MindKilla.” There are three palate-cleansing “infinity” interludes, which showcase Gang Gang Dance’s dubby electronics. Floating over it all is Lizzi Bougatsos’ cooing vocal, singing mostly unintelligible lyrics but carrying a sublime melody. In all, this is a muscular yet not flashy outing from Gang Gang Dance, and its smooth confidence is a welcome respite from its self-indulgent neighbors.