The first thing to note about Gang Gang Dance’s sixth album, and their first in seven years, is how lush it all is. Like all the best shoegaze it creates a surreal sense of space, and even the glitchiest moments on the album maintain this space, making Kazuashita a sonically warm, inviting listen.
J-TREE opens with a syncopated riff and light percussion with layers slowly adding on: first Lizzi Bougatsos’ vocals, then a sweet sounding guitar line, then big bass notes and more syncopated percussion, then reverb-heavy piano notes that sparkle out of the mix gorgeously. Salve On The Sorrow follows a similar path, as a sparse verse becomes furnished with artificial harp flourishes and piano before exploding into a stadium-ready instrumental section.
The album’s main tracks are broken up by interludes, listed in the tracklist with brackets around them. These are abstract, beatless vignettes that feature lingering synth pads and, in the case of ( novae terrae ), a poem read by collaborater Jack Walls.
The title track is the centerpiece of the album, featuring a list of colours and pigments, tabla, glitchy sequencing and 808 drums one after the other to form a complex but cohesive and exhilarating song. Bougatsos’ contributions are relatively minimal here, leaving the spotlight on Brian DeGraw’s superb production.
Snake Dub, while again well-produced, feels a little directionless with its cavalcade of random sounds swirling around a slightly forgettable instrumental. Too Much, Too Soon, however, impresses as Kazuashita’s most downtempo track and the most obvious manifestation of an ’80s influence that runs through the album.
The tracks all flow into each other, giving the album the feel of a particularly eclectic DJ mix, and overall it proves to be a fascinating, varied, atmospheric release that was thoroughly worth the wait.