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.
7 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?