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- Cargo, London »
- Ratatat »
We live in throwaway times. You can deny it all you want, but just take a look at the racks of ‘must-have’ fashions clogging the high street or the legions of here-today, gone-tomorrow pop muppets trudging off to the jungle for a spot on reality TV (bit like going on the dole for Z-listers, no?). That which we love one minute is easily tossed away the next.
Of course, just because we refuse to stop clogging up of our lives with disposable junk, that doesn’t mean all is lost. If you’re a savvy type, you wade through the piles of rubbish, pick out your favourite bits and reconstitute it into a palatable serving of post-modernism delights. It’s a recycling-fuelled formula that’s generally come to define this decade’s cultural output.
Turns out that Mike Stroud and Evan Mast, more commonly known to the blogging masses as Ratatat, are two of these savvy types. Their entire career is based around picking apart their favourite bits of the disposable past and present, and using it as a foundation for their own blend of electronic-driven, guitar-solo loving tunes.
With three LPS and two arguably superior remix albums under their belt, it’s a sound that attracts not just the garden-variety hipster to the confines of Cargo tonight, but also a fair share of backpack toting electronic fans and, for some reason, even a few American frat boys.
All long hair and worn-out t-shirts as they step to the stage, the pair, alongside afro-sporting keyboardist Jacob Moore, unveil a more psychedelic element to their sound than previously heard as they plough into tracks from their recent LP3 (review). Mixing slabs of glitch with their token guitar sound and a heavy use of bongos, the resulting racket oddly enough looks as much to the sounds of Santana’s version of _‘Black Magic Woman’ _as it does to anything crafted by the modern generation of beat-smiths.
At times, the extended ‘jams’ descend too deeply into the realm of indulgent noodling and there’s a fear that Ratatat may have veered off in a direction best described as weary tribal sludge. Thankfully, attention spans are brought back into focus as the band redeem themselves on the hip-hop-flavoured thud of ‘Lex’ _and the electro roar of _‘WildCat’. Not that the new songs are a loss. ‘Mirando’ effortlessly connects the dots between Ratatat’s early electronic guitar crunk and their current rhythm-heavy fixations as they play in front of edited footage from Predator – a testosterone-heavy film whose bullish machismo is just another example of a bygone relic belonging to Ratatat’s beloved ‘80s.
Yet above the mishmash of decades-spanning influences and re-contextualised clips from old music videos and film, it’s apparent that Ratatat the band, and they are a proper band in body and spirit instead of the chin-stroking hedonists usually found in dance scenes, have created a sound that marks the way from the guitar solo-filled dance pop of Daft Punk’s_ Discovery_ to the fuzzy electro-house of Justice.
The missing link in a decade-spanning chain of pop-loving electronic instrumentalists, then? From the sounds of closer ‘Seventeen Years’, that certainly seems to be the case.