More about: Ratatat
New Yorkers Ratatat were making electronic beats back when most of the current crop of electro artists were still sneaking a crafty fag behind the school bike sheds, and electronic music was the preserve of a few geeks with an unhealthy amount of knowledge of the German music industry. So the question is, now that the world and his mop-haired, skinny-jeaned son have gone out, bought Korg synthesisers and started their own electro band, what sets Ratatat apart from the rest?
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The answer is: plenty. ‘LP4’, which, as the title suggests, is the band’s fourth album, came from the same recording sessions as the album that preceded it (called, you’ve guessed it, ‘LP3’), and builds on the same ethos of weaving unexpected instruments into an electronic framework. It’s easy to try and do something different, not so easy to not make it stick out like a sore thumb, but Ratatat manage to blend in the likes of acoustic guitar, piano, a classical string section, and later, what sounds like sitar and mandolin, into the beats and synth mix so that you can’t see the joints, displaying a confidence and prowess only ten years in the business can bring.
A discordant siren call announces that the record is about to begin, and ‘Bilar’ explodes into life, its marriage of dirty bass and classical strings coming across like the soundtrack to a brawl scene down some seedy, darkened alley, two gangs fighting each other to the death as a string quartet performs in a doorway.
‘Drugs’ lifts a piano and bass intro off some as yet unreleased Field Music album and turns into a pumping electro track fit for any indie dancefloor, while ‘Neckbrace’ is the sinister garage track playing to an acid-warped masked ball at a stately home in some Stanley Kubrick film.
It’s tracks like ‘We Can’t Be Stopped’ that tell you this isn’t your average electro album - a two minute musical interlude featuring a Hammer House of Horrors piano and string section, with not a beat or bassline in sight.
Twisted psychedelia and freaked beats is the recurring theme. ‘Bob Gandhi’ is MGMT on double-dip acid attempting a medley of 80s TV theme tunes, while ‘Mahalo’ could be what John Lennon heard in his head as he lay in bed, veins shot through with LSD, germinating ideas for what would become The Magical Mystery Tour. If Chorlton and The Wheelies had ever put out an Original Soundtrack CD, this would have been it.
Possibly the album’s highlight is the foot-stomping ‘Bare Feast’, the aforementioned sitar and mandolin rising to a crescendo over a thumping, repetitive kick drum, and sounding like the accompaniment to some voracious belly dancing at a royal party in a far away, exotic land.
This isn’t electro for the sake of being trendy, nor is it simply beats for kids to get mashed to. This is music with a purpose, an outlet for original ideas, and a thoroughly enjoyable record to boot.
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More about: Ratatat