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- Ratatat »
It’s 2.30 on Saturday morning and Razzmatazz stands on its own, just outside Barcelona’s center, pulsating. Its five rooms are bursting at the seams with hundreds of tireless clubbers, and at the bottom of them all is the Razz club. A smaller, dirtier dance space, sparsely covered with bodies from all walks of life… like Ratatat’s entirely instrumental tunes, their audience brings together so many different elements yet are indistinct by title.
Attempting to mimic the Ratatat sound is a feeble task; there are no lyrics to clutch onto in the plight to comprehension. Before the gig gets going I’m talking to a guy at the bar, saying: “Yeah, I like the one that goes like that… ‘doooh dooo dooooh’… and the one that does this…”. Onomatopoeia has a lot to answer for. Ratatat.
The dance floor soon fills up and, at around 3.10, Ratatat burst on stage. Energetic hip-hop beats kick things off, sliced with the choppy bass melodies of ‘Lex’. Everyone is bouncing along, and the sound is infectiously funky (of course). As layer upon layer of guitar melody seeps in and the sound reaches a climax, I pull myself onto a podium, just off center; my eyes are drawn to kinetic images flashing on screens, reflecting the peaks and troughs of soaring synthesizers. All good, but the Stroud/Mast duo rocking back and forth, going at it heavier as sounds crescendo, is what propels their music on stage.
I’m fixed on a third member. Who is this impostor? Whoever he is, I damn well love him. He plugs away on the keyboard, swishing his wiry afro from side to side and leaping about in his own instrumental trance. I later discover he’s Jacob Morris, from fellow Brooklyn outfit The Double, lending hands to play Ratatat’s keyboards for this tour. As he brings sweet melodic contrasts to the bass drums of ‘Loud Pipes’, I watch him relentlessly - he’s a real asset.
The trio really knock up a theatrical, entertaining set. I scan the room and my eyes fall upon a skin-headed fella flinging and tossing his head to the beats as if he were as hairy as the Ratataters themselves. Everyone is losing themselves inside the zillion layers of slide guitar, organ chunks and acoustic beats, adding up to a good time.
But, after about half an hour, I stop dancing. I’m all of a sudden at a loss. I’ve lost track of where one tune ended and another began. I’m able to pin down ‘Wildcat’ when the synthesizers are intercepted with the fierce cat screeches, but after this, again, I lose track. They haven’t stopped moving or churning out beats since they got here. It all sounds exactly the same. Identical pockets of melody seem to alternate but, being honest, it all sounds exactly the same. Repetitive beyond belief.
Maybe they just read my mind, or maybe they’ve lost track themselves, because all of a sudden the beat fades out and Ratatat bring the night’s proceedings to a jolting close. I would usually feel cheated after such a brief 45-minute set, but I’m relieved. A funky, original sound, that saved itself from being dragged out. I shrug and move on up through the realms of Razzmatazz.