Gang Gang Dance: ‘J-TREE’ review

What I Know:
Honestly, I’m not sure what I know about Gang Gang Dance on the basis that their Wikipedia page almost reads like a Nigel Tufnel monologue from Spinal Tap. Between referencing album titles such as Revival of the Shittest and including the sentence, “On July 22, 2009 Gang Gang Dance played on a Russian Ferry in Japanese waters with their friends the Boredoms during an eclipse” I am at a loss to decipher what is real and what isn’t.

What I’m fairly sure is true is that the band is an experimental four-piece from New York, led by singer Lizzi Bougatsos. And that is all.

What I Like:
Further online research about the band tends to focus on Bougatsos’ vocals and, listening through J-TREE, you can absolutely see why.

Hers is the sort of voice the word ‘ethereal’ was created for. We should probably have many more words too. Maybe, in the language angels use, there are; a bit like how Eskimos have 50 different words for snow.

The most obvious reference point, vocally, is Grimes – particularly in songs like Flesh Without Blood where she really lets it off the leash.

And yet, for all that I love Bougatsos’ contribution to this song, for once it’s not her voice that steals the limelight.

Towards the end, a 2017 interview clip is played. The voice you hear is that of Shiyé Bidzííl – a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, speaking out against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through an area the Native Americans hold to be sacred burial lands.

Half way through the interview, Bidzííl is interrupted as a herd of buffalo are seen stampeding out of nowhere. Its a moment that had a profound impact on Bougatsos, as she explains:

“The Shiyé sample captures a point in time that is not only a historical moment in the struggle of humankind within a state of heightened political chaos, but also a reminder that Nature is not passive… The stampede of buffalo was a reaction from the higher powers of Nature in response to the cries of a people who were fighting to maintain that spiritual alliance. Standing Rock was essentially a standoff between beings who believe that money is God versus beings who believe that Nature is God. I think Shiyé’s moment was an example of the natural world confirming that the latter is much closer to the truth.”

The fact that the stampede coincides with the song’s climax only makes the moment all the more moving.

The new album, from which J-TREE comes, Kazuashita is due to be released on 22nd June.

Like this? Try these:

More from this Episode: