REMS Meet BPMS
When Jeff Fell Ryan split from the No-Neck Blues Band in early 2000, he took with him not just his slinky Damo Suzuki frontman moves but his technophilia as well, leaving the Harlem-based Deadheads to their rooted American primitivism. Not that he's renounced beards: With his new group, Excepter, he literally sings the body electric over an electronic mess best described by that woolly Whitman: "Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it . . . the response likewise ungovernable . . . all diffused." The band's synths and samplers engirth the mutters and moans of Ryan and female foil Caitlin Cook, their twin infinitives tangling synapses. Titles on their debut KA allude to skulls, breasts, muscles; in this spontaneous body music, nerves shriek, drums thump like adrenalined hearts, digital bass slushes like blood in the temples.
The super-limited AG further disorients ears and eyes, plundering the Beatles' "Blackbird" while wrapping it in a pamphlet of warped O.J. portraiture. Their newest single, "Vacation"/"Let's Go," finds its five members on the beach, where they want to be languid but can't, speeding up to cram in visits to Kraut-rock's deluxe resort, the Temple ov Psychick Youth, and all of Jamaica. It blends the dreamy and nightmarish like a DJ obsessed with synching REMs to BPMs.
Gang Gang Dance are DJ-friendly too, kindly notating where the breaks are on their otherwise unbroken side-long mixes. As singer-collagist Lizzi Bougatsos chitters like Yoko Ono and Lydia Lunch suffering poor cell reception, the local band flings scraps of Cambodian dub, Ethiopian no-wave, and Tibetan techno together with precarious care. Brian DeGraw, Tim DeWit, and Josh Diamond play non-Western scales, but their foreign sound speaks more of the cheapness of the keyboards and drum pads at their disposal. This scrap-heap world music was originally explored on their limited-edition CDR Revival of the Shittest, but the Fusetron album, half recorded in Kentucky, half in Chinatown, purees these chunks resolutely, further clouding any notion of regionality.
Side two opens with "The Thread," squishing Bougatsos's bogus Allah chants into Amazonian mosquitoes. As the band's Can-like clangor pressurizes and the atmosphere thickens with voodoo, they conjure the disembodied voice of tragically departed member Nathan Maddox. Distorted, brutal, strangely cathartic, the final howl is his. It somehow echoes Whitman's end line: "the body of the dead is not more cursed."
Gang Gang Dance play Irving Plaza October 13; Excepter play the Knitting Factory October 15.
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