Pulsating rhythms and synth riffs are the order of play for Brooklynites Melissa Livaudais and Busy Gangnes’ debut album as Telepathe, Dance Mother. It follows 2006’s EP Farewell Forest, which was recorded on an eight-track, and a smattering of festival appearances in 2008. As such, it feels like it’s been a long time coming.
Indeed the album took the duo nearly a year to record. They started with vague ideas for songs in December 2007, after which they took Dave Sitek of TV On the Radio on board as a producer, which was only going to up the ante of expectation. How much of the resulting record’s sound is down to him is necessarily moot, but the dense, shifting sonic layers will sound familiar to Sitek aficionados.
So far, so experimental, but there’s an unmistakable pop touch in amongst it all too. So Fine’s synths take us to a place slightly to the left of Eurythmics‘ pop, further down the road from Ladytron‘s synth-noir and, with their mix of vocal harmonies and tribal drum patterns, especially on Your Line, towards the same cafe in which sits Animal Collective.
Can’t Stand It also calls the ’80s to mind, possibly due to the producer’s collection of vintage synthesisers, but especially through an acknowledgement of the era’s leftfield big hitters Cocteau Twins and their modern-day disciples Asobi Seksu, while Michael suggests someone’s left a late ’80s/ early ’90s synthpop CD on loop.
The centrepiece, skewed to the end as it is, is the seven-minute Trilogy – Breath of Life, Crimes And Killings, Threads And Knives. Its echo-laden collage of noirish sounds, expletive-laden lyrics and pounding bass suggests some raw, urban landscaped grit. “This is why I do this, this is why you do this,” come the lyrics, but the explanation leading to the conclusion is rather lost.
Dance Mother is not, and is clearly not made to be, easy listening – it’s an admirably ambitious rather than lovable record, and it doesn’t reveal its secrets in a single listen. It’s also not at all danceable. But its adventurous textural melding of outré and familiar should reward anyone prepared to be patient.