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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Gang Gang Dance and Nguzunguzu at Brillobox

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 3:51 PM

New York art-scene figureheads and Pitchforkmedia darlings Gang Gang Dance hit Brillo on Sunday July 17th accompanied by LA avant-moombah-pop production-and-DJ duo Nguzunguzu. The show itself was a sweatfest prompted by boundless dance music as both artists offered up their versions of sonic splatter paintings. Indie representation from the major cultural epicenters of either U.S. coast gave the crowd at Brillo two wildly different flavors from the current wave of Internet-induced pop-collage dance music.

Nguzunguzu, comprised of Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof, opened. The duo stood before a table full of electronic noisemaking equipment and created soundscapes wedged between hyperactive minutes full of dance music. Their sound was sexy, but not filthily so, as they drew from Chicago footwork and dub-house music with just a tinge of UK bass. They have music-making ties to M.I.A., and the shared flavors were made just apparent enough through their tendency toward sampling R&B and poppy tracks but reworking them into a pop culture quilt. Pop samples were re-appropriated so originally that there was no need to pay homage to the sampled artists as they were rarely recognizable anyway. Fair Use at its finest.

Sometimes really great producers fail to take their mixing capabilities to a DJ set, but Pineda and Maroof proved to be equally deft at live mixing and mixed their way right into Gang Gang Dance's set.

The crossover between the two acts was as seamless as one skilled beatmatcher handing the decks over to another. Gang Gang Dance's live set was much like their albums: It felt like one big song equipped with peaks and valleys, but never plains. Even when they did stop between songs the transition was smoothed by the endearing chatter of ethereal vocalist Lizzi Bougatsos, who deservedly got crowd comparisons to Bjork circa Sugarcubes. Not only did she warble through the mystical lyrics with a strong yet fairy-like voice but she also played a myriad of percussion instruments, chimes and anything in sight that could be hit with a stick.

Gang Gang Dance's overall sound is very much percussion-centric, melodies comprised of Bougatsos' chime playing mixed with the small drum set played by Tim DeWitt and other organic drums played by both. "Experimental" could be an applicable descriptor for their sound, however, in comparison to their earlier stuff -- at first listen sounded like noise -- their show on Sunday was an otherworldy cacophony of harmonious percussion backed by synths and just a does of their older anti-music making efforts.

Brillo was steamy but no amount of heat could stop the packed crowd from dancing. Between Nguzunguzu's expert mixing of moombah-like vocal tracks over bass-y layers that made for pretty tunes to Gang Gang Dance's chaotic spirit-driven drumfest, the entire show was high-energy and highly unique.

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