Painting with Sound

Three years in the making, Saint Dymphna is the long-awaited follow-up to the critically acclaimed album God’s Money.

Eclectic and unique are words bandied around all too often, but Saint Dymphna is not easily classifiable, a jarring fusion of electro, 80s techno, African guitar and tribal beats, which shouldn’t work but somehow, do. Neatly side-stepping any attempt of pigeonholing in a conventional genre, as they say themselves, “we call it Gang Gang. We do our own thing.”

An integral element of the New York City arts scene, Gang Gang consists of Lizzi Bougatsos, Brian Degraw, Tim Dewit and Josh Diamond. Leader of the gang is multi-talented individual Brian Degraw who creates the band’s striking artwork and Diamond credits with majority input in the band’s artistic direction. Where other bands may be moulded to fit the fashion, as a creative collective Gang Gang possess a myriad of talents that have enabled them to well-define and control our aesthetic.” You get the feeling Gang Gang are not trying to deliberately react against or subvert the current trends, they just aren’t interested. Dismissive of “kids with overnight success that are forgotten about the next day… we’re just not into that.”

Gang Gang’s innovative, artsy approach to music has not gone unrecognised, in 2007 they were approached by the Whitney Biennial — an accolade seldom extended to musicians. When touring, Gang Gang make movies and in 2007 the multimedia art and audio film Retina Riddim testifies to their diversity. For the Whitney Biennial, they also incorporated visual installation into their performance. As Diamond says, “It’s kind of nice to be in a group where we are so artful with what we do.” This crossover of art and music is “something very fluid. I’m not a visual artist, but I like to think we paint with sound.”

Having toured with high profile groups such as Sonic Youth and The Animal Collective, very recently Gang Gang collaborated with the Boredoms in a piece that involved 88 drummers on 08.08.08 in their native New York City. To be recognised and sought out by the Boredoms, whose music Diamond describes as “sounding nothing like Gang Gang, but spiritually we’re the same. They’re just further down the line than we want to go.” The collaboration is a project that Gang Gang are massively enthusiastic about, with Diamond describing it as “overwhelming… a highlight of my life.”

These prominent, high status collaborations are propelling Gang Gang Dance onto the national and international stage. Although Saint Dymphna is intrinsically experimental, the dance feel of tracks such as Princes highlight the potential of commercial club success. Certain similarities can be drawn to Aphex Twin, Gang Gang Dance could be described as intelligent dance music.

When asked why the production process of this album was so lengthy, reasons ranged from band disagreements, money issues, other creative projects and touring commitments, basically “life got in the way.” However, although the road was long and arduous, it is not overstating the end product’s appeal to call it their masterpiece.

Saint Dymphna is beautiful and grand, an auditory experience unlike anything you will have heard yet, which remains surprisingly accessible even to the uninitiated ear.

Samantha Cracknell