Gang Gang Dance: 'Saint Dymphna'

The Brooklyn collective Gang Gang Dance pilfers from all over the place without ever obscuring its own singular vision on its fourth full-length disc. Where the band formerly mixed free-form rock with ambient electronics, the excellent new release Saint Dymphna, titled after the Catholic patron saint of those with mental illness and of the possessed, is almost entirely electronic, with intense and intricate (mostly) live percussion. Some of the songs—“House Jam,” “Interlude (No Known Home),” “Blue Nile”—recall ’90s house music with human beats underneath. Others reflect the influence of ambient pioneer Brian Eno, and still others build on the experimental, trance-like psychedelic rock of the group’s early releases with what sounds like exclusively electronic sounds.

The unlikely collaboration with London MC Tinchy Stryder on “Princes” proves a significant victory as Gang Gang Dance incorporates grime, a uniquely British hybrid of rap, dub, and glitchy dance music, more successfully than any American act ever has before. “Princes” is the stand-out track on the otherwise understated Saint Dymphna, but it doesn’t overshadow its surroundings. Gang Gang Dance combines its far-ranging source material into something utterly fresh that approaches the sublime.

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