Elevate Difference

Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna is the patron of those stricken with mental illness or nervous system disorders, epileptics, mental health professionals, happy families, incest victims, and runaways. The saint was martyred by a recently widowed father. He’d made advances at her and she ran away to Belgium with her confessor, the court jester, and his wife. The elderly priest and Dymphna were slaughtered, but they don’t say what happened to the jester. St. Dymphna’s attributes include appearing praying in a cloud surrounded by lunatics wearing golden chains. Gang Gang Dance seems more appropriate to dancing on earth, but lunacy and jewelry still correspond. Their first album was God's Money, and based on the strength of Saint Dymphna, I’m actually tempted to track it down despite the fact that I possess neither.

The band includes Lizzi Bougatsos, Brian Degraw, Tim Dewit, and Josh Diamond. They craft world-beat-meets-moog tracks, with recordings veering in between the ethnographic and the experimental. This is destined to be a pick at art opening after parties, but not necessarily in a bad way. The band members say in an interview that two met with one stocking music on shelves and another shoplifting it out of the bin, and that seems as apt a metaphor as any. Moments of musical clarity are stolen between some extensive noodling.

My response to much jazz and experimental music frequently is to think, "Am I actually enjoying this, or am I acting like I am enjoying it because I believe that I should enjoy it as a cultured would-be-avant-garde person? How many other people here are actually enjoying this? How many would rather be listening to Johnny Cash? Are we all just a bunch of pretentious gits?" My own CD collection ranges from Eno to Orbison (okay, an old friend made me a tape of the Orbison), so eclecticism is all well and good, but I was more enamored of the opening tracks than the album’s wind-down. The cover graphic appears to depict Berbers at Mardi Gras. That works, as does a track entitled "Inner Pace." Gang Gang Dance is simultaneously measured and organic. Enjoy them at your own pace.

Written by: Erika Mikkalo, November 26th 2008

I love this review and this CD. I too wondered if I was just being hip when I got it, but it's quickly grown on me (maybe because I was a fan of God's Money). Some of it is a bit "unlistenable," so says my partner, upon whom I regularly inflict these sorts of things, but even he, a man whose favorite bands include PUSA and Green Day, thinks this is fun at times.