Rawwar‘s Bhangra-gone-LES A-side, “Nicoman,” has already garnered its share of M.I.A. compare-and-contrasts, but Gang Gang Dance have been playing the song live for years. Plus, as a backhanded way of saying GGD have gone pop, why not name-check somebody who actually sells records— say, Panjabi MC? Anyway, that this band has beat smarts is the city’s worst-kept secret since Max Fish: Their prior LPs verged on dizzy incoherence precisely because they knew exactly where the verge was.
Rawwar does nod back. “The Earthquake That Frees Prisoners” reprises the trick, first heard on 2004’s “The Thread,” of resurrecting deceased band member Nathan Maddox via sampled snatches of his voice, collaged in next to a synth-y infant howl. Trawling indigestible source material for claustrophobic intensity is business as usual for this band, but the other two tracks—”Nicoman” and “Oxygen Demo Riddim”—break new wax: For the first time on record so far as I know, all four band members improvise the same song at the same time.
Synchronicity isn’t a problem for L.A. art-punk duo No Age, either, since there are only two of ’em and all. But where GGD hint at locking in, No Age play with falling out: Weirdo Rippers shaves down and murks up the duo’s otherwise plainspoken punk. “My Life’s Alright Without You” practically stutters in the act of realizing its own metaphor, stumbling between gloomy atmospherics and a fists-up lurch. Songs written just outside their ability to play them, sentiments just an enunciation short of clarity—like certain K Records bands of yore, No Age drag Weirdo Rippers a beat or two behind where they imagine it to be, and in the gaps you can spot all the living they did just to write the thing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 28, 2007