New York's new avant-garde.

Songs you've got to hear.
Nov. 11 2005 12:19 PM

Weird Rock

New York's new avant-garde.

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While countless hot bands have peered back at post-punk from the 1970s and '80s, few have picked up post-punk's dialogue with music from around the world. Gang Gang Dance take this line and gnaw it into exotic shapes. Their album Hillulah, edited together from four live performances, rifles through the sounds of African thumb piano, clinking Indonesian gamelan, and rootsy wood-block rhythms. It's all a lot murkier than what gets recorded clean as "world music," but the effect evokes imagesof rain-forest thickets and dusty street bazaars. Oh, yes, Gang Gang Dance scream a lot—one guy in the band heaves through a number of Tourettic rants. But they also have a female singer who sounds like a ghostlier, gothier Kate Bush. Her improvised trills follow the chaos and tranquillity happening all around her—a starkly beautiful presence in the middle of a band busy trying to find a sound not yet hammered down.

Andy Battaglia is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Wire, Spin, the National, and more.