Ratatat are an American duo comprising Evan Mast who plays synth,
bass and undertakes production duties and Mike Stroud, who plays
guitar. LP4 is (not surprisingly) their fourth album. It has a
nicely home-made ambience full of rickety but largely successful
musical ideas. Imagine a scaled down MSTRKRFT with a gentler sense
of humour and you're getting somewhere close.
Opening track 'Bilar' explodes out of the brooding introductory
chords like a broken clockwork toy bouncing off the skirting-boards.
A curiously disconcerting invention.
The sombre central dirge sounds as though it has epic intentions but
the chattering coda and German spoken-word sample segues directly
into the next track 'Drugs' (sporting some thrillingly cheesy guitar
licks!) before it has a chance to realise its erstwhile ambitions.
'Neckbrace' is a particularly fun example of what these
talented gentlemen are capable. The twitchy-scratchy beats
and deconstructed scatty bass voice set up a deliciously funky
background for the cut-and-paste guitar and synth incursions.
The fairground swish and swoop of the miniature 'We Can't
Be Stopped' generates an uneasy dream-like atmosphere.
(Picture a mad clown at the controls of a roller-coaster
in a 1950's American black and white B-movie!)
Likewise, 'Maholo' comes and goes in not much more than
two minutes. There's a slight taste and smell of Hawaii
at work in the duck-and-diving arrangement which pulls
the rug of certainty out from under our feet.
The ambiguous musical imagery is a great part of its charm.
'Bare Feast' comes on like a cross between an Appalachian
hoedown and the prelude to plate-smashing dance at a Greek Wedding.
Mad as a box of frogs in the nicest possible way.
Final track 'Alps' manages to transform a series of particularly
banal melodic ideas into something far more interesting than it
might have been by virtue of the sheer nerve and bravado of its
unpredicatable drive and artfully dynamic forward motion.
The whole album is a journey with no clear beginning, middle
or end but one, none-the-less, which delivers rich rewards
without the need for a neat and tidy final destination.
A singularly fascinating little magical mystery tour.